Hermes is to offer its couriers the option of “self-employed plus” status which would provide holiday pay and guaranteed earnings of at least £8.55 an hour, following a deal with the GMB union.
Couriers have the option of joining the scheme or continuing with their present status. If they choose “self-employed plus” they will be eligible for holiday pay (pro-rata up to 28 days) and individual negotiated pay rates that will allow them to earn at least £8.55 per hour over the year.
New couriers who take up the deal will be expected to use Hermes’ route optimisation system, although existing couriers will not. The company said it is presumed that they know the best routes.
Martijn de Lange, Hermes chief executive, said: “This new option allows couriers to retain the flexibility of self-employment we know is so important to them and gives them the certainty of guaranteed levels of earning, the security of holiday pay and a strong voice. We’re proud to be leading the way with this pioneering development which we hope will encourage other companies to reflect on the employment models they use. We have listened to our couriers and are wholeheartedly committed to offering innovative ways of working to meet peoples’ differing needs.”
Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: “Full credit to Hermes. They’re showing that the gig economy doesn’t have to be an exploitative economy and we look forward to working with them through this ground-breaking agreement. “Other employers should take notice, this is how it’s done.”
Hermes has rejected suggestions that the new deal might make it liable for National Insurance payments, saying: “This deal has taken many months and involved input from many experts, acting on behalf of both Hermes and the GMB. Therefore Hermes and the GMB are confident that the new self employed plus model will not affect the tax situation for either Hermes or its couriers who remain self employed.
“They continue to have the right to substitute, are unbranded and operate their own vehicles. It has been wrongly reported that drivers will be told how to ‘drive their rounds’. In addition the holiday pay is being funded by Hermes and not the Government so there is no additional tax liability.”