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13 Mar 2020

Robert Booth, The Guardian

UK: Delivery firm Hermes to compensate couriers told to self-isolate due to Covid-19, following union warnings

"Delivery firm Hermes to pay gig workers if they must self-isolate", 6 March 2020

One of the UK’s largest gig economy delivery firms has announced it will pay its self-employed couriers if they are told to self-isolate because of coronavirus, despite not normally providing sick pay.

Hermes, whose 15,000 couriers are normally paid only if they complete a parcel delivery or collection for retailers including John Lewis and Asos, said... it had set aside a £1m support fund.

The move follows warnings from trade unions that a lack of sick pay for the more than 1 million gig economy workers could accelerate the spread of the virus, as workers would face financial difficulties if they did not carry on regardless of their or others’ health...

The GMB trade union welcomed the move by Hermes... “This is a very welcome step in the right direction, and all employers across the UK should follow their example.”...

[C]hief executive of Hermes UK [said] “We have taken the decision to help support our couriers financially if they need help and also ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus. It is simply the right thing to do and I hope that other organisations will follow our lead.”

Hermes said it would also help couriers find someone to deliver on their behalf if they did not have a substitute. Usually that responsibility falls on the courier. It said it would also guarantee that their rounds would be kept open for them for when they returned.