04 August 2011 #Employment
In 2009 we reported the Court of Appeal decision that a group of car valets, employed under terms and conditions purporting to make them self-employed were, in fact, employees. This decision has now been upheld by the Supreme Court in Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher (2011).
The valets` contracts described them as "self-employed subcontractors", included a substitution clause and stated that valets were under no obligation to provide services on any particular occasion. Moreover, the valets were offered no guarantee of work, paid their own tax and had to purchase their own insurance, uniforms and materials.
The valets` were claiming that they were "workers" and so entitled to certain minimum rights (minimum wage, paid holiday). However, the Supreme Court (in agreement with the Court of Appeal) went further in holding that they were in fact "employees".
Regardless of what was written in the contract, the Supreme Court confirmed that it is the true nature of the relationship that is relevant. In reality, the valets were expected to turn up to work every day and do the work provided, and no one seriously expected them to provide a substitute. Consequently, they were employees.