UK – The transport union GMB has slammed parcel group Yodel'stactics in signing up its self-employed drivers for 28 days or, according to the union, undergo a threat of no further work and potential contract termination. The GMB says Yodel should follow the lead set by Hermes in February this year when the group set up its 'self-employed plus' status in which Hermes workers can choose to take up to 28 days of paid leave, compared with Yodel which says drivers must arrange holiday cover for their rounds when they wish to go away.
The union accuses Yodel of providing sub depots with poor hygiene facilities and says it has enforced changes to pay schedules with only seven days’ notice given. Steve Garelick, GMB Regional Organiser said:
"Yodel don’t care about their self-employed drivers and have avoided meetings to follow Hermes lead and look at giving them worker status. Enough is enough. Major companies such as Yodel should be taking the lead, however it seems they would rather profit from workers who have no voice and no real way to question managers’ motives and decisions. Workers are also suffering the added pressures of working long and unsociable hours, currently couriers are on a road to nowhere."
The agreement reached between the GMB and Hermes has however not been without its own problems. Whilst established drivers are allowed to decide their own routes, a practice which continues following the agreement, and which saves Hermes the trouble and related expense of sorting out a precise round for every vehicle, new drivers will have to deliver in the order set by the company. This is for the simple reason that, as they will be paid guaranteed rates per hour in future, any misrouting will mean an expense for Hermes and more wages for the driver concerned.
The most contentious thing about the Hermes deal is the question of whether the drivers are now liable for tax and National Insurance charges as full time employees, as opposed to the self-employed status claimed. Hermes said it had checked this before going ahead but HMRC has a habit of letting such schemes run for a period before ruling against them. Nobody was available at Hermes to comment but the GMB has said the workers were not liable as full time employees, as for that they would need to receive a ‘full suite’ of benefits.