Does a substitution clause in a person's service contract automatically mean they are denied 'worker' status?
Not on the facts, held the EAT in Stuart Delivery Ltd v Augustine.
Mr Augustine was a delivery courier, undertaking fixed hours 'slots' for Stuart Delivery Limited (SDL). During the slot Augustine was under the control of SDL, he was unable to leave the zone he had agreed to operate in and was required to undertake the deliveries offered to him in return for a guaranteed hourly wage. He could not hold himself out as available to other delivery companies during the period (typically 3 hours) of a slot. A tribunal considered the arrangement whereby Augustine could release a slot he had signed up to back into the pool of approved couriers via SDL's Staffomatic app was not of the character of a substitution clause which would deny him 'worker' status.
The EAT agreed. The tribunal had correctly found that Augustine would only be released from the obligation of performing the slot himself if another courier signed up for it and that he had no control over whether, or who, picked up the slot he had released. This therefore did not amount to a 'right' of substitution, or a provision that was inconsistent with limb (b) worker status.
Finally the tribunal's conclusion that Augustine was not in business on his own account and that SDL was not a customer of Augustine's delivery business could not be faulted on their findings of fact.
Thanks to Dr John McMullen of Stone King LLP for preparing this case summary.