29 January 2019
Employee, worker, self-employed independent contractor, other? The answer might not be what you think! The legal definitions are not clear and neither are the boundaries clearly defined.
In the increasingly digital gig-economy in which we find ourselves in 2019, more and more people are making ends meet through the “gigs” that they complete rather than through a traditional 9 to 5 job. Jobs such as ride-hailing drivers, couriers, musicians and video producers. The ever-growing list goes on and the difficulty is categorising people. This is particularly so given that there is no single test to apply.
The answer dictates what employment rights and protections you are entitled to. “Employees” have a variety, including protection from unfair dismissal, an entitlement to statutory sick pay and statutory redundancy pay. “Workers” have several, including an entitlement to the national living or minimum wage, statutory paid holiday and protection from unlawful deduction of wages. “Self-employed contractors” have few.
Thankfully case law can provide some guidance. In the high-profile Uber drivers case, the Court of Appeal held that Uber drivers were “workers” and not self-employed due to the fact that when the ride hailing app was switched on, they were under a positive obligation to accept passengers. Uber have voiced their intention to appeal to the Supreme Court in an attempt to have the decision overturned.
At Balfour + Manson we recently acted for foster carers and successfully had their “employee” status declared in the Employment Tribunal. We are also acting for other foster carers seeking to have their “worker” status declared and to thereafter rely on a number of worker protections and be remedied for the wrongdoing that they have suffered.
We can provide you with legal advice on what your employment status is and what employment rights you are entitled to. For businesses recruiting, we can help you ensure that if you put status on a contractual footing that what is written down reflects what is happening on the ground.
It might be said that given the blurred boundaries and the difficulties in categorisation, that the current legal framework on status is not able to deal with the labour market as it is today and the myriad of types of labour that people are selling. Maybe we are not too far away from a complete overhaul of the law in the name of achieving legal certainty!