14 October 2013

Employees have greater protection than other workers, but assessing whether someone is an employee is not an exact science. All the factors surrounding the relationship are taken into account, including the extent to which one party exerts control over the other.

The recent case of Troutbeck SA v White and Todd involved Mr White and Ms Todd, who were engaged by a Panamanian company as caretakers at a Sussex farm which was rarely visited by the owners. The signed contract between the parties stated that it was an 'employment agreement' and they received paid holiday and lived on-site. However, there were no fixed hours, both employees had other jobs and there was no day-to-day control over them. They were essentially left to their own devices.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the low level of control did not preclude an employment relationship and Troutbeck found itself liable for costly claims of unfair dismissal.

Consequently where any business or landowner is engaging individuals as workers (and not employees), they should give careful consideration to the basis of the relationship, how it is documented and how it operates on the ground to avoid the unforeseen consequences of employment claims.

For more information, please contact Huw Cooke from our Employment team.

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Roger Bull

Roger Bull Managing Partner

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