July 27, 2020

A 26-year-old hairdresser is planning to sue her former employer on a raft of other claims after she won an initial legal point that could have far-reaching implications for the entire industry.

Meghan Gorman, from Clitheroe in Lancashire, has won the right to claim for notice, holiday pay and redundancy payment.

These rights had previously been denied to her because, even though she carried out her work at a Terence Paul salon in Manchester city centre for six years up to its closure last year, her contract with the salon stipulated that she was a self-employed hairdresser.

Ms Gorman's lawyer, successfully argued that while her client was technically registered as self-employed, she had almost no control over what hours she worked on a given week.

It was also successfully claimed that Ms Gorman was never in a position to make any changes to her working conditions.

Additionally, she was excluded from setting the prices of hair treatments in the salon.

The decision could have an impact on thousands of hairdressers nationwide as well as people in other professions who find themselves in work conditions that do not reflect their contract terms.

Many people who think they are self-employed are actually not. 

The influence of the Pimlico Plumbers and Uber drivers’ cases has changed the climate.

During the case, Terence Paul put forward the argument that its self-employed hairdressers had control over the hours they were rostered to work.

Furthermore, the company claimed that self-employed workers were in a position to set their starting and finishing times, and had a say in treatments they could offer customers.

Ms Gorman strongly disputed all of this, claiming she had to work the hours set down by the salon, as well as stating that she did not receive holiday pay and had to seek the salon's permission to take time off.

She added that Terence Paul kept approximately two-thirds of her takings.

Ms Gorman said: "They clearly had the power and control. I did not believe it could be considered I was in business on my own account. I had thought for some time that the contract they had in place was not right, saying I was self-employed when they had all those rules in place.”

The ruling does not conclude litigation between Ms Gorman and Terence Paul.

According to her lawyers, she is now planning to pursue other claims against the company.

These claims include unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination, and failure to provide her with a written contract of employment.

Commenting on the decision, employment lawyer Gwyn Edwards of Neathouse Partners said “this case goes to show the importance of having contracts in place that reflect the reality of the working relationship. The fact that a contract refers to self-employment does not necessarily mean that an Employment Tribunal will find that an individual was genuinely self-employed. Tribunals will look at the reality of what happens on a day to day basis and if the relationship is actually one of employment, the staff can bring claims for backdated pay, holidays and other benefits that can run into tens of thousands of pounds”.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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