Chester 01244 405555

Grosvenor Court
Foregate Street Chester
Cheshire CH1 1HG
DX: 19990 Chester

Shrewsbury 01743 443 043

Lakeside House
Oxon Business Park
Shrewsbury SY3 5HJ
DX: 148563 Shrewsbury 14

Airport City, Manchester 0844 800 8346

Office 129
Manchester Business Park
3000 Aviator Way
Manchester M22 5TG

Send us a message
Our Offices

Reality Bites

28th July, 2011

The much anticipated decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Autoclenz Ltd vs Belcher & Ors is finally in; and it’s not the best news for businesses that use self-employed contractors.

So, you’ve engaged a self-employed contractor and both parties have signed an agreement stating that everyone accepts that there is no employment relationship. However, on a day to day basis, Mr. Contractor looks like an employee; walks like an employee; talks like an employee (you get the idea). In this situation, what is the true picture?

The case centres on whether or not a contractor, expressly described as a self-employed contractor in his contract, is really a ‘worker’ and subsequently entitled to certain rights including minimum wage and paid holiday. It was the true nature of this relationship between the parties that was assessed by the Supreme Court in Autoclenz Ltd vs Belcher & Ors

In the case, twenty car valeters signed contracts in which they accepted that they were self-employed subcontractors (and interestingly it was found that they entered the relationship with their ‘eyes wide open’ and fully appreciated their self-employment status). They paid their own tax and had to purchase their own insurance. Although they had to purchase their own uniforms and materials they could purchase these items from Autoclenz. Their contracts also stated they were under no obligation to attend work and that they were self-employed contractors and were entitled to provide a substitute if necessary. However, in practice, it was found that the valeters were expected to attend work and provide their services personally.

Ultimately, the reality of the valeters’ working practices triumphed over the written contractual agreement.

The lesson to be learned for any business that uses or is considering using self-employed contractors is simple – make absolutely sure the reality of the contractor’s working practices reflect the terms of any contractual agreement and their self-employment status. It appears a business cannot rely solely on the written agreement in such circumstances!

For more information on this or any other employment law matter please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or email her here.

You might also be interested in...

Is there such a thing as a good divorce?

22nd November, 2018

Family Law Partner Sandy Edwards believes there is. Next week, from 26 to 30 November, Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals, will be promoting “Good Divorce Week” which will focus on how separating and divorcing couples can put their children’s needs first and limit the impact of conflict. The week falls during the government’s divorce... Read More »

Ethics Guidance – Transparency in Price and Service

16th November, 2018

It is reported that a quarter of all complaints dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman revolve around costs. Therefore to avoid complaints and confusion, it is important to be clear from the outset. The new Transparency Rules (which the SRA have now confirmed will come into effect on 6 December 2018) require that accurate and relevant information is... Read More »

Aaron & Partners Increases Recommendations in Leading Industry Guide, The Legal 500

5th November, 2018

Aaron & Partners LLP has once again seen improved rankings in The Legal 500 – a comprehensive guide... Read More »

Contact Us