Another gig economy case has found in favour of the “workers” after an Employment Tribunal ruled that 27 “educators” at the National Gallery were workers not self-employed contractors.
The 27 claimants, who collectively had over 500 years’ experience working for the gallery, brought claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, unpaid holiday pay and failure to consult after a reorganisation in 2017 ended their existing arrangements. The National Gallery resisted the claims on the grounds that the claimants were self-employed “freelancers”.
The judge rejected the claimants’ argument that they were employees because there was no obligation to offer or accept work between assignments which was “fatal to the claimant’s case”. The unfair dismissal claims, therefore, failed.
However, the judge found that once an educator had accepted an assignment they were obliged to provide the services personally and there was no right of substitution. This was a significant factor in his decision that, despite the terms of their written contracts, the claimants were workers. He also considered the training the claimants had received and the level of integration into the gallery.
The decision reinforces, once again, that it’s not sufficient to merely state an individual is self-employed in a contract; a Tribunal will look beyond the wording to examine how a contract has been performed in practise when making a decision.
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