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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

09 OCT 2014

White v Troutbeck SA [2013] EWCA Civ 1171; [2013] IRLR 949; (2014) EMPLR 044

Edward  Benson

Partner

Judgment Date: 9 October 2013

Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

Longmore, Rimer LJJ and Sir John Mummery

Most employment rights are only available to ‘employees’ – ie those who work under a contract of employment. What distinguishes a contract of employment from other contracts where someone works for another in return for payment is that in contracts of employment, the ‘employer’ has a contractual right of control over the work of the ‘employee’. Leaving an employee in charge and allowing them to exercise their own judgment does not necessarily mean there is insufficient control for them to be employees.

W & T lived in an annexe to a farm and were paid a set amount each month to maintain and manage the farm. The owners of the farm only made occasional visits. W & T were allowed 30 days’ holiday a year. They were dismissed and complained that their dismissals were unfair. Their claims could only be heard by a tribunal if they were employees.

A tribunal held there was insufficient control by the family for W & T to be employees. The EAT and Court of Appeal disagreed. The low level of control did not preclude the possibility that they were employed. The level of control, including the limit on holidays and the fact that the family could (even if they did not in practice) have exercised day-to-day control, was sufficient to make them employees.

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