The ruling affects the 65 couriers who have already brought claims but is also likely to impact upon the wider network of 14,500 Hermes’ couriers who are engaged under the same contracts as the couriers who will now follow suite and look to collect similar awards.
It is the latest case to be brought by the union GMB over the so-called gig economy, where the likes of Uber have argued that their drivers are self-employed contractors.
A further hearing will take place to calculate the holiday pay, national minimum wage and any unlawful deductions due back that the couriers should receive. This could run into multiple thousands of pounds per employee based on their duration of employment. It will also have an effect on similar industries and businesses of a smaller size than Hermes.
Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said, "Bosses can't just pick and choose which laws to obey. Workers' rights were hard won, GMB isn't about to sit back and let them be eroded or removed by the latest loophole employers have come up with to make a few extra quid. Union activity seems to be very high in this area and there seems to be a groundswell of support from government.”
"Not only will this judgment directly affect more Hermes’ couriers across the country, it's another nail in the coffin of the exploitative bogus self-employment model which is increasingly rife across the UK.”
A Hermes spokesman said, "We will carefully review the tribunal's decision, but we are likely to appeal it given that it goes against previous decisions, our understanding of the witness evidence and what we believe the law to be.”
"Nevertheless we have always been fully prepared for any outcome of this decision and its impact on 15 couriers and former couriers.”
If you are a YBC member and an employer or sole trader/self employed and think that you may be affected by this ruling, call the YBC Employment Support Line.