Tribunal decides self-employed hairdresser is an employee

The divide between employment and self-employment continues to blur. The recent case of Ms M Gorman v Terence Paul (Manchester) Limited resulted in a judgement that the claimant, Ms Gorman, was an employee of Terence Paul (Manchester) Limited despite the fact that she entered into a contract with them as a self-employed hairdresser.

When she completed her apprenticeship with Terence Paul (Manchester) Limited and qualified as a hairdresser in October 2014, Meghan Gorman was handed a document entitled Independent Contract for Services” to sign. This described her as a “self-employed hair stylist”. The contract didn’t actually define what this was.

When the Manchester salon closed in May 2019, Ms Gorman lodged a claim for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and for notice pay, holiday pay and redundancy pay. The salon owners claimed Ms Gorman wasn’t entitled to make any claims because she was self-employed.

Following a employment tribunal in March 2020, a full decision was issued in July 2020. The tribunal decided Ms Gorman was am employee and was entitled to the claims she was seeking. The full tribunal judgement can be found here.

This is not the first case of its kind and in recent years we’ve seen cases where apparently self-employed people have been declared workers or employees.

When an employment tribunal considers cases such as this they will take into account the reality of the working arrangements between the parties. What is of particular interest is the degree of control exercised over the “self-employed” individual.

In coming to the conclusion that Ms Gorman was an employee, the tribunal said, “the ‘independent contract for services’ simply does not reflect the working arrangements which the respondent [the salon] in fact required the claimant [Ms Gorman] to adhere to and the obligations and restrictions placed upon the claimant [Ms Gorman] by the respondent [the salon”]. The tribunal also said it was apparent to them that “the claimant’s [Ms Gorman’s] day-to-day work and working arrangements were controlled by Ms Clark, the manager of the respondent’s Salon”.

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