Wed 03 Apr 2019

Gig economy update

We look at some recent cases relating to employment status and the gig economy.  

Some interesting cases on employment status have appeared in the first quarter of 2019.  The first, Braine v The National Gallery relates to 27 "freelancers" engaged as "educators" at the National Gallery in London.  In addition to claiming holiday pay and discrimination they also claimed unfair dismissal (and one claimant also claimed victimisation on the grounds of trade union membership and/or activities) requiring them to not only persuade the Tribunal that they had the rights of workers, but that they were employees.  Although they failed to persuade the Tribunal they were employees the Tribunal did decide that, during the period of assignments, the claimants were workers.  This was only a preliminary hearing to establish employment status - the merits of the holiday pay and discrimination claims will now need to be looked at.   

The case of British cyclist Jess Varnish also attracted a fair bit of media attention not least because of the allegations of sexual harassment within the British Cycling set up.  However, the case appeared to fall at the first hurdle with a tribunal finding that Ms Varnish was neither an employee nor a worker.  UK Sport gives athletes up to £25K a year, but argued they only provide the means for talented athletes to realise success with no employment relationship existing.  Ms Varnish has appealed the decision citing a number of failures on the part of the Tribunal including that it "failed to explain how the work performed by a professional football player is different from the work performed by Jess for British Cycling". 

It has also been reported that a PhD student is now pursuing Bristol University alleging she had worker status.  Watch this space…….

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