UK Supreme Court: “Sub-Contractors” Were in Fact Employees


The UK Supreme Court (SC) recently held in Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher and Others that a group of 20 car valeters who were engaged under contracts stating that they were self-employed were in fact employees for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (NMWR) and the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). The SC held that written terms which do not reflect the parties’ actual agreement, and which are inconsistent with conduct in practice, may be disregarded in assessing employment and worker status.

This is an important decision which highlights the way the courts consider working practices where they are inconsistent with express contractual terms and whether self employed contractors can claim statutory rights as workers or employees.

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