Committee chairman on contract 'should be classed as a worker'

A committee chairman should be classed as a worker according to the terms of his contract, even though he didn’t have an obligation to carry out any duties. 

That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving Somerville and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  

Mr Somerville had been appointed as a member and chair of a fitness to practice committee by the council for four-year terms under supply of services contracts in 2012 and 2016.  

Under those contracts the council could provide him with reasonable notice of a committee hearing and he could choose whether to provide his services at that hearing.  

He claimed holiday pay on the ground that he was a worker within the Working Time Regulations.  

The Employment Tribunal ruled the arrangement did not amount to a contract of employment as the council was under no obligation to offer hearings and Somerville was under no obligation to accept them and, once accepted, he was free to withdraw.  

Somerville took the case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which found in his favour. 

It said the fact that an overarching contract did not impose an obligation to work did not preclude a finding that the individual was a worker when he was in fact working. 

The contract the parties had agreed existed until terminated. 

Finally, when deciding whether a specific agreement to provide services on one particular occasion amounted to a worker's contract, the fact that the parties were not obliged to offer, or accept, any future work was irrelevant. 

Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law. 

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