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ET rules that Hermes couriers are workers and not self-employed

In the week following the Supreme Court decision in Pimlico Plumbers v Smith, an employment tribunal in Leeds has decided that 65 Hermes couriers are workers, rather than being self-employed.  This means they are entitled to rights including national minimum wage, rest breaks and holiday pay.

The decision is likely to mean that more than 14,000 Hermes couriers nationwide will be able to seek similar rights, supported by the GMB union. 

It is yet another judicial decision establishing worker status and follows a long line of cases including Uber, City Sprint, Addison Lee and Pimlico Plumbers.

Whilst this may be seen as a victory for those seeking worker status, the implications for consumers may not be so favourable. If businesses using the "gig economy" model are faced with significant additional costs in engaging workers instead of self-employed individuals, consumers will inevitably suffer price increases.  This in turn will have huge implications for the viability of the gig economy.   

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: "This is yet another ruling that shows the gig economy for what it is - old fashioned exploitation under a shiny new facade.

"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.

"Not only will this judgment directly affect more than 14,000 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.”