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12 December 2012
Lords Neuberger, Walker, Mance, Wilson and Lady Hale
A volunteer is not an employee for the purposes of discrimination legislation.
A volunteer for a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) complained that she had been discriminated against on grounds of disability. The documentation between her and the CAB clearly showed that there was no intention to create a legally binding contract. So she was not an employee under UK law - the definition of employee being someone who works under a contract of employment or a contract to provide work or labour other than as a client.
But the EU directive behind the UK's legislation refers to ‘occupation and employment' - not just employment. The appellant argued that ‘occupation' covered voluntary work. The Supreme Court examined the history of the various EC directives and other language versions of the equality directives and concluded that the term ‘occupation' did not cover voluntary activities.
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