Unions and free delivery?

February 4, 2019 1:18 pm Published by

We used to think of Unions as people who called ‘everybody out’ in a war with employers, or they were grim men on the news going in for beer and sandwiches at Number 10.  Unions seem to have reinvented themselves and moved the main battleground to defending employee rights by very capably taking major employment issues through the Courts.

A winning result of one such battle by the GMB was that an Employment Tribunal found that a group of Hermes couriers were workers and entitled to receive the national minimum wage and holiday pay.  The implications for lots of workers in the ‘gig economy’ – so called after musicians who perform a gig here and there – are huge.

As a result of that win Hermes has struck a deal with the GMB to offer guaranteed minimum wages and holiday to the drivers.  It has rightly been described as a “ground-breaking” gig economy deal.  It means that the Hermes 15,000 self-employed workers can choose to become “self-employed plus” and offering individually negotiated pay rates of at least £8.55 an hour.

Good news for individual workers and the GMB, but two arguably negative things may result.  One, is that free or cheap delivery deals may become less common on internet purchases.  Second, is that HMRC may well sniff round and decide that, if workers are being given benefits, can’t ‘self-employed plus’ mean that there is a plus for national insurance and tax?  Employer’s national insurance, for instance, would be a very large slice of money for HMRC.  Watch this space.

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This post was written by Frances Barker