Hermes investigation raises questions about ‘self employed’ status

Fri 30th Sep 2016

Philip Sayers comments on an HMRC investigation of delivery company Hermes and what it means for self employed staff.

“The working practices of delivery company Hermes are due to be investigated by HMRC, after a report suggested the company pays its couriers less than the national living wage.

“By taking on couriers as self-employed, Hermes has no legal requirement to pay the national living wage. The potential investigation comes off the back of working practices exposed by the report, including couriers being made to work when sick.

“This is about the legal status of employees. Staff who are employed are entitled to the whole range of employment rights and obligations, while self-employed workers have very few formal rights. HMRC will be looking into whether Hermes employs couriers on a self-employed basis to avoid paying the national living wage.

“Simply labelling an employee as ‘self-employed’ is not the end of the matter. Whether a worker is ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ is defined by a number of tests. These include the degree of control of the individual, his or her responsibility for providing equipment, tools, or materials, whether the tasks have to be done by the individual or whether they can be delegated, and when and how the tasks are done. It can be quite a complex analysis and the status can sometimes be over ruled.

“It will be interesting to see the outcome of the Hermes investigation and I hope this case will raise employers’ awareness of the importance of understanding the real differences between staff being employed and self-employed.”

For more information on this or any Employment enquiries contact Philip Sayers on 0800 328 3282 or email

Fri 30th Sep 2016

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