DELIVERY firm Hermes is to guarantee couriers holiday pay and consistent pay in a “ground-breaking” labour deal, it has been announced.

The company is amongst the big name brands criticised for its role in the so-called “gig economy”.

As many as 5 million people in the UK are thought to be employed in gig economy roles, delivery food for firms like Deliveroo or driving for ride-hailing operations like Uber.

Working flexible hours and controlling their working patterns, they are paid for the number of “gigs” they complete, meaning earnings can vary depending on demand.

Classed as independent contractors, they cannot rely on sick pay or holiday pay and have no right to the national minimum wage or redundancy packages.

Now self-employed couriers at Hermes will be given the option to take holiday pay and guaranteed earnings under a new “self-employed plus” deal.

Opting in will allow individuals to take home at least £8.55 per hour over the year, with pay rates negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Up to 28 days’ holiday pay will be included, pro rata, and those who sign up to the GMB will receive full representation from the union.

Announced today, the collective bargaining agreement is the first ever recognition deal of its type, and is designed to support the rights of self-employed people providing courier services to Hermes.

GMB union said it “reflects that the world of work has changed and how employers can change with it”.

Couriers who choose not to participate will retain their current form of self-employed status and earn premium rates.

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: “Hermes is leading the way, looking after the people who work for you on the ground day in, day out, is not only good for business but the right thing to do.

“As a result of our ground-breaking agreement, couriers will have a real voice in their workplace as well as the right to holiday pay and guaranteed pay, something GMB Union has long been campaigning for on behalf of our members.

“Full credit to Hermes. They’re showing that the gig economy doesn’t have to be an exploitative economy and we look forward to working with them through this ground-breaking agreement.

“Other employers should take notice, this is how it’s done.”

Martijn de Lange, chief executive officer of Hermes UK, commented: “This new option allows couriers to retain the flexibility of self-employment we know is so important to them and gives them the certainty of guaranteed levels of earning, the security of holiday pay and a strong voice.

“We’re proud to be leading the way with this pioneering development which we hope will encourage other companies to reflect on the employment models they use.

“We have listened to our couriers and are wholeheartedly committed to offering innovative ways of working to meet peoples’ differing needs.”

The change follows an employment tribunal ruling last year, when a group of 65 claimants successfully challenged the delivery giant, which operates across the UK, for basic employment rights. At the time, Simon McVicker of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, said “uncertainty about who is and who isn’t genuinely self-employed must stop”.