Hermes offers workers the right to choose guaranteed earnings and holiday pay.
The courier firm Hermes is to recognise the GMB union and allow workers to opt for guaranteed earnings.
The agreement with the GMB union means Hermes’ self-employed couriers will have the option to take holiday pay and have guaranteed earnings.
Hermes couriers will be able to choose to become ‘self-employed plus’, which provides a number of benefits such as holiday pay (pro-rata up to 28 days), and individually negotiated pay rates that allow couriers to earn at least £8.55 per hour over the year. In addition, those self-employed plus couriers that join the GMB Union will benefit from full GMB representation.
If couriers don’t want the extra rights they will be able to retain their current form of self-employed status and earn premium rates.
Martijn de Lange, Hermes UK CEO, 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: “Hermes is leading the way, looking after the people who work for you on the ground day in, day out, is not only good for business but the right thing to do.
“Couriers will have a real voice in their workplace as well as the right to holiday pay and guaranteed pay, something GMB Union has long been campaigning for on behalf of our members.
“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 groundbreaking agreement. Other employers should take notice, this is how it’s done.”
Self employment campaign group IPSE warned, however, that the use of terms such as ‘self employment plus’ for people who are not self employed was ‘muddying the waters’. It argues that Hermes drivers have never been self-employed and that instead of creating ‘self-employed plus’ status, the company should simply give its couriers the full package of benefits they are entitled to.
IPSE’s Director of Policy Simon McVicker stated:“The line between employment and self-employment is blurred, and the debate extremely complex, but we have considered the Hermes example very carefully and come to the conclusion that their couriers are not self-employed.
“By creating ‘self-employed plus’ status, Hermes is muddying the waters of employment status even further. Of course it is an imperative to protect people with an uncertain working status, but this is not the way to do it. It should not be up to multinationals like Hermes to create new statuses and effectively decide UK employment law. Instead of creating this new and unnecessary status, Hermes should simply give their drivers the full package of benefits they are entitled to.”
Hermes’ move follows high-profile court case last year which ruled that Hermes workers should be considered workers rather than self employed. Similar cases have been taken against other gig economy businesses. It also follows McDonald’s decision to offer its workers the right to choose guaranteed hours. That policy won it Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for Innovation in Flexible Working in 2017.