Britain’s second-biggest parcel company, Hermes, which delivers for John Lewis and other major retailers, is paying some of its couriers at levels equivalent to below the national living wage according to a snapshot of information provided by some of those who have worked there.

In common with several delivery firms serving the internet shopping boom, Hermes does not need to pay its workers the £7.20 an hour living wage introduced in April because they are self-employed. The arrangement is legal and is approved by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

One self-employed courier for Hermes provided evidence that suggested she took home approximately £5.90 an hour over two weeks of recent work and another showed invoice data that indicated she earned no more than £6.70 per hour.

A third courier provided estimates that she earned £5.50 per hour over nine days. All three of those who delivered parcels said they worked six days a week, from three to six hours per day.

The Guardian also sent a journalist to work as a Hermes courier for a week, and after two days of unpaid training, on his first three days of work, he earned the equivalent of about £6.38 per hour, after expenses.

Two workers also showed the Guardian accounts from 12 months of work. One calculated he earned about £7.30 per hour in the last tax year, albeit without paid holiday, sick pay or pensions contributions. Another earned about £6.90 per hour over the same year.

Hermes said that according to its calculations, based partly on its own estimates of the time needed to deliver parcels, none of its couriers are earning below the “national living wage”. It said it is monitoring several hundred workers who it believes are earning “around £7.20 per hour to ensure they do not drop further”. Read more

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