Last week, delivery giant Hermes lost a case against a group of ‘self-employed’ drivers – a result described by their union as a triumph against ‘bogus’ self-employment – when a tribunal decided the workers were just that: workers and therefore entitled to holidays, sick pay and other employment protections.
The number of people forced to work under such ‘self-employment’ to cut their employers’ costs and liabilities has mushroomed under the Tories.
Hermes has responded to the loss in a message to its (self-)employees that tells them not to expect any improvements to their own conditions from the tribunal decision – and warns them that their own pay rates may be under threat if the company is forced to treat its workers as workers:
‘Therefore it’s business as usual’. The claim that the company remains ‘committed to providing you with… the ability to earn well above the National Living Wage‘ is only as reassuring as the statement three paragraphs earlier that any changes to the company’s model is ‘likely to impact on the [fair pay] premium‘.
Hermes’ message is a striking contrast with that of the GMB union, which presents the decision as a ‘landmark’ in the fight against what it considers ‘exploitation’.
The message also confirms Hermes’ intention to appeal against the tribunal decision. GMB will be preparing to fight to prevent the decision being overturned – and other unions may well join in to broaden the fight for improved protections for workers in the so-called ‘gig economy’.
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