News and Events

Continuity of Employment

  • Posted

The Court of Appeal has, this morning, handed down a judgment containing an important gloss on Carmichael v National Power (in which the House of Lords held that two tour guides working on a series of ad hoc engagements was not employed due to lack of mutuality of obligation).

Mrs Prater was a schoolteacher, who worked as a home tutor to children who were unable to attend school. She worked under a series of contracts, but without any guarantee that she would receive futher work once a particular placement finished (or, indeed, being under any obliation to accept a new placement when offered).

Although there were some short breaks when she was not working (eg August), there was no appeal from a finding that these amounted to 'temporary cessations of work', so that they would not break continuity of employment if Mrs Prater otherwise qualified as an employee.

The Court of Appeal (upholding the ET and EAT) held that each of Mrs Prater's short-term engagements amounted to discrete and self-contained episodes of employment, under a contract of employment. They therefore combined to give her sufficent continuity to accrue employment rights.

The Court of Appeal made it clear that Carmichael did not address the status of the Claimants when they were actually working as guides - only whether there was an 'umbrella' contract - and therefore Carmichael could be distinguished.

Cornwall County Council v Prater