Hermes drivers are 'workers, not self-employed contractors'

An employment tribunal has ruled that drivers with Hermes are workers, not self-employed contractors and so are entitled to employment rights.

The ruling follows a similar decision by the Supreme Court, which held that a plumber with Pimlico Plumbers should also be classified as a worker rather than self-employed.

The Hermes case involved 65 drivers. The Employment Tribunal in Leeds held that they were workers and so entitled to rights such as holiday pay. The decision could eventually affect more than 14,000 Hermes couriers who have similar contracts.

The Pimlico case involved plumber Gary Smith who had worked for the London-based company for six years. 

His contract stated that he was required to wear a company uniform, carry a company ID card, use a company mobile phone and hire a company van when carrying out the work. He was expected to work five days per week for a total of 40 hours.

Mr Smith suffered a heart attack in 2011. Pimlico refused his request to work three days a week instead of five, so he brought claims for unfair dismissal, unlawful deductions from wages, unpaid annual leave and disability discrimination.

The Supreme Court ruled that he was a worker within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act, the wWorking Time Regulations 1998, and he was in "employment" within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010.

Both rulings are seen by many as weakening the legitimacy of the growing ‘gig economy’. Legal experts say it’s now time for the government to introduce legislation to clarify the status of the millions of people currently working under self-employed contracts.

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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