Following the success of workers in a number of high-profile cases including Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, it was expected that further cases regarding worker status would soon be hitting the Tribunals. This, coupled with the removal of fees for Claimant’s has led to a slew of new cases being issued. The recent case of Exmoor Ales Ltd & Another v Herriot is just one example.
In this case, the Claimant had been working for the brewery for some 27 years providing accountancy services. She worked in partnership with her husband and submitted invoices to the brewery in the name of that partnership.
From 2011 onwards the Claimant had received quarterly payments of £1000.00 from the brewery. When the relationship ended, the Claimant brought a number of claims including unfair dismissal and discrimination. The brewery denied that she was either a worker or an employee and therefore submitted that she was not entitled to bring these claims. In doing so, they relied upon her tax arrangements, the fact that she had prepared employment contracts for other members of staff but not for herself and was not a member of the employee share scheme.
However, the Tribunal accepted the Claimant’s evidence that the £1000.00 quarterly payment was an exclusivity payment requiring her to work solely for the brewery. This coupled with the fact that she had no right to appoint a substitute in her absence, and that the brewery exercised significant control over her work indicated an employment relationship. The brewery has since appealed the decision and the Employment Appeals Tribunal have upheld the original decision that the Claimant was an employee of the company.
These types of cases are expected to continue over the next few months or possibly even years. Indeed, in a very recent case of Braine & others v The National Gallery which was heard in December last year, it was decided that 27 freelance art educators who were working for the National Gallery were workers. This appears to be the first time the decisions in Uber and Pimlico Plumbers have been applied to those working in the public sector, suggesting that the scope of these decisions is also increasing.
Employment status cases are always highly fact specific but highlight the need to give real consideration to a person’s employment status and ensure that they are being provided with the appropriate right such as the right to paid holiday, sick pay etc in order to avoid potentially costly claims.
Employers are reminded to keep in mind the factors that the Tribunal will look at when deciding employment status. These include not only tax arrangements but the amount of control exercised over the worker, whether the worker is obliged to provide services or whether the company is obliged to give them work, to what extent the worker is integrated into the employer’s business such as whether they wear a uniform etc, and whether they have a right to appoint a substitute to carry out their work for them.
If you have any queries about employment status or anything else raised in this article, please get in touch with Charlotte Braham on 01494 521301 for further advice.