Miss Quashie was a lap dancer at Stringfellows, who worked under a contract called the "Club Agreement", which stated that she was self-employed. Linked to this, Miss Quashie worked regularly on a rota and received "Heavenly Money" vouchers (a money substitute) from clients which Stringfellows converted into cash, subject to agreed deductions (e.g. a "commission" fee).
When Stringfellows told Miss Quashie that it no longer wanted her to work in its club, she brought an unfair dismissal claim. However, an Employment Tribunal found that she was self-employed and so said that it did not have jurisdiction to hear her claim. However, Miss Quashie was not deterred by this because, as we highlighted last year, she decided to appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal ("EAT").
Taking a different approach the EAT decided that Miss Quashie was an employee because Stringfellows was required to offer her work (on the dates in the rota), and she was required to perform this work personally. In addition, Stringfellows had control over her work activities, and imposed "fines" on her for breaching club rules.
Since our last article, Stringfellows has challenged the EAT’s findings and the case was recently heard by the Court of Appeal.
After revisiting the facts, the Court of Appeal has restored the Tribunal’s original decision by concluding that Miss Quashie was self-employed. The key factors in reaching this decision were:
Stringfellows were under no obligation to pay Miss Quashie anything at all - she negotiated her own fees with clients and only received from Stringfellows monies received from her clients (after deductions).
Miss Quashie took an economic risk in performing her work - she was often out of pocket at the end of a night’s work.
The Club Agreement specifically confirmed that Miss Quashie was self-employed, paid her own tax and did not receive sick or holiday pay, and there was no suggestion that the Agreement was a sham.
The journey of this case through the Courts shows the complexity of determining employment status, as it can be difficult to apply the general principles to each set of unique facts. If in doubt, seek legal advice!
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.