Automatic enrolment  

Fresh tribunal ruling pushes gig workers closer to pensions

Fresh tribunal ruling pushes gig workers closer to pensions

Hermes couriers could start receiving pension contributions from the company, as a court ruled today (25 June) they should be classified workers rather than self-employed.

An employment tribunal in Leeds ruled in favour of claims made by 65 couriers, which will be entitled to receive benefits such as the minimum wage, holiday pay and be enrolled in an auto-enrolment scheme.

GMB union, which helped bring the claim, said the ruling will have implications for the wider network of 14,500 Hermes couriers.

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Under legislation introduced in 2012 all employers have to auto-enrol their workers into a workplace pension as long as they are at least 22-years-old and earn £10,000 a year or more.

But the same does not apply to contractors or gig economy workers classed as self-employed.

This is the latest ruling to affect gig economy workers, and adds to a growing number of legal cases in this area.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that Pimlico Plumbing heating engineer Gary Smith should be qualified as a 'worker', rather than a contractor, under employment law.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has argued that the government should write into law a positive definition of self-employment to provide clarity on who is and who is not genuinely self-employed.

Simon McVicker, the IPSE's director of policy, said: "The uncertainty about who is and who isn't genuinely self-employed must stop.

"It is unacceptable that policymakers are relying on costly, time-consuming court cases as the first port of call in determining employment status."

Tim Roache, GMB's general secretary, argued that "this is yet another ruling that shows the gig economy for what it is - old fashioned exploitation under a shiny new façade".

He said: "Bosses can't just pick and choose which laws to obey. Workers' right were hard won, and the 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."

A Hermes spokesperson said: "We will carefully review the tribunal's decision but we are likely to appeal 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. In the meantime it is business as usual and we remain committed to providing couriers with the benefits of flexible working."