It’s high time the Government took firms like Hermes to task and stop allowing such blatant avoidance of their obligations to provide safe services, and provide a duty of care to their workforce, other road users and the public.
GMB, the union for Hermes Lifestyle Couriers, has warned of a public safety risk after a leaked letter shows the company is forcing couriers to work excessive hours and consecutive days in the run up the Christmas.
Hermes is a last mile parcel drop company that delivers a significant amount of parcels for online retailers like Amazon UK, Next Directory, Cloggs Footwear, M&M Direct, J D Williams, Redcats, Wynsors Shoes and Cotton traders among others.
The company is attempting to force couriers to work up to 21 days consecutively without a day off or no cover being provided.
This is on top of the long daily working hours expected of the couriers.
Many lifestyle couriers are currently earning below the minimum wage, when unpaid worktime and other deductions are taken into account due to their ‘bogus’ self-employed status.
GMB believes this is a major public safety scandal and downright dangerous practice – not only for couriers but for other road users and the public at large.
GMB has written in the strongest possible terms to Hermes, reminding them of their obligations to their employees of the Health & Safety Act 1974, and that Couriers are also guided by Transport Act 1968 and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
The union has also advised Hermes that if they continue down this route, and victimise GMB members for refusing to undertake these dangerous working conditions, GMB will take the strongest possible action in defence of our members.
GMB is urging members to write to the company informing them they will not be working 21 consecutive days – putting themselves, other road users and the general public at risk due to fatigue.
Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: “Hermes has again taken the ‘ho ho’ out of their lifestyle couriers’ Christmases.
“The company has stated at two MP select committee hearings in 2017 that they have cover couriers.
“Yet the reality could not be different.
“If a lifestyle courier objects, or cannot provide their own cover, they are told by their Hermes field managers they will be penalised by having work withdrawn from them.
“It’s high time the Government took firms like Hermes to task and stop allowing such blatant avoidance of their obligations to provide safe services, and provide a duty of care to their workforce, other road users and the public”.
Frank Field MP said: “I thought only Father Christmas and his reindeer had to work compulsorily full time over Christmas, not ‘self-employed’ workers.”
HERMES RESPONSE TO GMB CLAIMS
- The GMB letter drafted ‘on behalf of Hermes’ self-employed couriers’ is full of inaccuracies. No courier is expected to work longer hours, more days or handle bigger volumes – and there is absolutely no penalty for choosing not to do so. It is entirely unfounded and totally irresponsible to suggest that Hermes would require or encourage couriers to put themselves or the public at risk.
- Couriers are free to choose whether they want to provide a service on either Sunday, as they are at all times. If they choose to work the additional two Sundays or choose to provide a substitute, Hermes will pay an extra £20 per round per Sunday for successful delivery. This has been well received by the courier network. Field Managers will work closely with couriers to organise cover for those two Sundays, should the courier not wish to take on the additional work themselves. They will use an existing cover list of 4,500 couriers, as well as the pool of the extra 6,000 relief couriers that will be in place for the peak period.
- Last year, nearly two thirds of round holders chose not to provide services on all 21 days during this period, proving this is clearly optional.
- It has been clearly communicated that providing a service on either Sunday 26th November or Sunday 3rd December is completely optional. There is absolutely no penalty for not doing so.
- Our self-employed couriers enjoy earnings well in excess of the National Minimum Wage. In fact we have set our minimum standard at £8.50 per hour, taking into account any expenses the couriers may accrue. We are confident in the accuracy of our courier pay model and our records clearly show that our average courier rate is £10.60, 41% above the National Minimum Wage, after all legitimate expenses have been deducted. This has been verified using real time data gathered from a significant sample of rounds, supported by route modelling.
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