You may have read an article in The Guardian – “Life as a Hermes driver”. It told of a reporter who got a job as a Hermes self employed delivery driver and discovered that it’s hard work.
The article claims that Hermes offload all the risk on to the courier – that is self employed people don’t get sick pay, holiday pay and other employment benefits. He also discovered that those that are good at their job tend to earn significantly more than those who aren’t or who are inexperienced.
I don’t see a problem with this. I know of many Tamebay readers who are self employed and I know when many started their businesses they made little if any money. For some it took months or years for the profits to grow to be enough to live on. That’s the lifestyle you chose and that’s the price you pay, so why would being a self employed courier be any different?
Personally I don’t know any Hermes drivers apart from my local driver Annie. She started off doing a round which included my house and has now expanded to run the local depot with a team of drivers. She always seemed happy and has done pretty well with Hermes. I know that’s just one story but although I rarely see Annie now she was my local driver and has done good.
Nonetheless The Guardian were more than a little sniffy about the career prospects and earnings. You can read the full article online. Hermes weren’t too enamoured with the article and asked us to share their side of the story which you can read below.
Statement from Hermes
The Guardian article focused on the fact that a small number of couriers receive less than the living wage which we believe to be disingenuous. Our records prove that on average our network of 10,500 self-employed couriers receive the equivalent of £9.80 per hour, 36% above the National Living Wage of £7.20.
This figure takes into account any expenses the couriers may accrue but does not include any other revenue they earn from other sources, as being self-employed means they are not tied to working exclusively for us. It also does not factor in that couriers claim vehicle insurance, repairs and servicing, fuel, parking, hire charges, vehicle licence fees and breakdown which are allowable tax expenses.
Since the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016 we have been working hard to ensure that couriers get equal to or above the living wage threshold. This is despite the fact that there is no legal requirement for us to do so as they are self employed, a status that has been approved by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
We recognise that pay can fluctuate during the year when parcel volumes vary according to consumer spending patterns. Therefore we use a team of 27 regional planners and a central mapping team to constantly monitor estimated RPHs (rate per hour) and ensure that if couriers drop below £7.20 this is addressed within 24 hours, either by re-structuring the rounds to be more efficient or by increasing the parcel rates.
We are committed to our couriers, who have all received a 2.5% pay rise since the start of the year. We will also be investing an extra £4m in our network to cover both an additional increase in rates for delivering parcels, as well as performance-related contractual payments. In addition, we are investing £18m in new HHTs to support couriers so they can complete their round as efficiently as possible and providing a website where couriers can gain discounts for leading retailers.
As self-employed couriers, a model that is commonplace throughout our sector, they remain free to negotiate their own rates and the fact that over three quarters of our 10,500 couriers have been with us for three years speaks volumes.
In short, we are proud to have an extremely committed and loyal network of couriers who enjoy their work and deliver high standards of service in return for good rates of pay.