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Employment Status

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[Thanks to David Campion of EAD Solicitors for preparing this case summary]

The EAT (Silber J) has handed down its decision in Knight v BCCP, which reaffirms the position that without mutual obligations to accept and offer work, there can be no employment relationship under the Employment Rights Act 1996 ("ERA 1996").

The Claimant, a taxi driver engaged by a taxi firm for just over six weeks, did not receive any holiday pay, sick pay or overtime. He worked under the taxi firm's control to a degree and only received wages for the occasions he actually worked.

Following termination, the Claimant claimed statutory notice pay under s.86 ERA 1996. Although the ET originally found that the Claimant was a 'worker' under s.230(3), the Claimant failed to establish that he was an 'employee' under s.230(1). Whilst workers are entitled to some rights under ERA 1996, only employees are able to claim statutory notice pay. As the ET found that the Claimant was under no obligation to accept work and the taxi firm under no obligation to offer work to the Claimant, it held that the Claimant was not an employee, a decision in turn upheld by the EAT.

As there was no contractual documentation in this case, the EAT considered the ET's decision that there was no mutuality of obligation to be a 'question of fact'. The EAT therefore held that the ET's decision could only be overturned if found to be a decision which no reasonable Tribunal could have reached, which it was determined not to be.