Court of Appeal finds Self-employed Consultant to be a Worker
The law distinguishes between employees and workers. Employees are afforded a wide range of protections in employment including the right not to be unfairly dismissed. Workers’ rights are more limited but include the right to take paid annual leave and the right not to suffer unlawful deductions from their wages. In Hospital Medical Group (HMG) v Westwood, Mr Westwood was a self-employed consultant who on termination of his agreement, raised a claim in respect of an unlawful deduction from wages and unpaid statutory holidays. The Court of Appeal therefore had to consider whether as self-employed consultant, he could also be a worker.
Mr Westwood was a GP with his own practice. He provided services to HMG as a hair restoration surgeon. These services were provided on an exclusive basis. He agreed to a contract for services stating that he was self-employed and submitted invoices for payment. He was responsible for his own tax and could decline any offers of work. HMG featured Mr Westwood in its promotional material. The Court of Appeal found that whilst he was in business on his own account, HMG was not his client or customer. Instead, he was an integral part of HMG’s business. They needed him in order to provide the hair restoration services. He was therefore a worker. In some cases, it will be clear that the business is the client or customer of the self-employed individual in which case the individual cannot be a worker. However, where the individual is heavily relied upon and is integral part of the business the unintended result may be that they are a worker.