The labyrinth; self employment and hiring Locums

June 13, 2018

A labyrinth is a complicated and irregular network of passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way. Employment Law can often seem like that. Take for instance the issue of self-employment:

When is a self-employed person not self-employed?

That would appear to be a nonsensical question. We might as well ask, When is a tall person not a tall person? But tall is a matter of perspective. And according to the ruling of the Supreme Court this morning, so is the status of being self-employed.

This morning the Supreme Court held that a so-called Gig Economy worker was entitled to workers’ rights.

Gary Smith had worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years. He was provided with a branded van, was vat-registered, and paid self-employed tax.

Following a heart attack, Mr Smith applied to work three days per week instead of his usual five. The firm refused and confiscated the branded van that Mr Smith hired.

The Supreme Court judgement allows Mr Smith to make a claim for holiday and sick pay along with Unfair Dismissal in an employment Tribunal.

This ruling is of great importance to any veterinary practice employing a self-employed locum. For instance, two issues central to the aforementioned case should be of interest:

  1. Personal service. The right for Mr Smith to send a substitute in his place. The Supreme Court noted that whilst this right existed in this case it was limited to someone who already worked for Pimlico Plumbers.
  2. Overall control. Mr Smith was tightly controlled by Pimlico with branded uniforms and vans. This was extended to an attempt to control Mr Smith’s activities post- termination by use of restrictive covenants.

Coming only a few weeks after a teacher won over £600,000 for discrimination arising from a disability, after being dismissed for showing an 18-certificate film to vulnerable 15-year olds, it means 2018 will be an interesting time for employers. They’ll find themselves increasingly in need of support to help guide them through the maze-like complexity of Employment Law.

In mythology, Theseus was helped through the labyrinth by means of a ball of thread. Using one of our packages to support your practice will help to guide you in the right direction and help you stay on the right side of the law when using locums.

And our advice is far more durable and reliable than a ball of thread.