Tribunal back self-employed worker’s claim for perks

Employees should review the benefits that are provided to workers who have been labelled as self-employed, after an hourly-paid lecturer was found to be an employee by an Employment Tribunal and entitled to pension and holiday rights.

Kaye Carl worked as a tutor in shorthand typing at the University of Sheffield. Her contract stated that she was a contractor and that there was no relationship of employer and employee between herself and the university.

Although Carl was told at her interview that she was self-employed and would have to invoice the university for payment, there had not been any negotiations over rates of pay as the tribunal would have expected if there had been a proper business arrangement between two parties.

In addition, the tribunal found that because Carl used the university car park, was included in the university handbook, received expenses and paid sick leave, and was permitted to use the grievance procedure, she was, in effect, being treated as an employee.

Adam Lambert, employment law partner at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, said: “I’m not surprised by the case because a tribunal will always look beyond the paperwork. Just because you call someone self-employed, does not mean that they are. In this case the tribunal decided that the relationship [between Carl and the University of Sheffield] was more like an employment contract.”

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At a pre-hearing review, the tribunal ruled, that although she was to be treated as an employee she had not been treated any less favourably in terms of pay, than full time staff. The university had already agreed to pay pension contributions to allow Carl to take paid annual leave.

The tribunal has yet to publish its full judgment.