Blurred lines – who is entitled to workers’ rights?

Foster carer brings new tribunal case – calling into question: ‘just who is entitled to workers’ rights?’ 

A new claim recently filed on behalf of a foster carer argues she is entitled to worker’s rights, such as paid holiday and protection from discrimination.
The carer bringing the tribunal claim said: “We fear being unwell, either physically or mentally, as this can also easily lead to us losing our jobs. Pay can be slashed and we are unable to do a thing about it. We can be, and are, discriminated against.”
Previously, many people have not been classed as workers or employees, often by being self-employed contractors. A well-known case of this is that of the Uber drivers, who are bringing claims that they too should be given worker status.
A case that is also soon to appear in court is Pimlico Plumbers. This appeal is focusing on a contractor who was forced to wear a uniform and rent a van, but had to arrange his own tax and insurance.
What are worker’s rights?
One of the differences between a worker and a contractor is that workers are entitled to certain rights. These can include, but are not limited to:
  • Receive the National Minimum Wage.
  • Protection from unlawful wage deductions.
  • Paid holidays.
  • Protection from discrimination.
  • Minimum rest breaks.
  • Statutory sick pay.
  • Statutory maternity & paternity pay.
  • Statutory adoption pay.
  • Shared parental pay.
The HR Dept previously gave evidence to the Westminster Future of Work Inquiry on our belief that the worker status should be abolished and replaced with a one that is cleaner, clearer and easier for small businesses to use.
How might this impact my business?
If you only have employed staff it is unlikely to have much impact on you. But for businesses that use contractors, there could be repercussions of the definition of what is an employment relationship. This could mean potential claims for owed back pay and holiday.
What should I do?
Take advice about your circumstances and people that work and provide services to you. Get in touch with your local HR Dept to make sure your contracts are clear and solid.

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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.