What happens if you face a claim for holiday pay but you dispute the claimant was ever an employee?

Employment Tribunal Success | Disputing employee status

Our client was a design and construction company specialising in refurbishments.

They received a claim from a former contractor, claiming that he was owed over £2,000 in holiday pay. Our client disputed that the holiday pay was owed, as they did not believe this individual was an employee. They came to us for advice on the merits of his claim, and assistance with the claims process.

Our client’s concerns

We met with our client and went through the relevant background and reviewed the client’s documentation. The most important point for our client was establishing the contractor’s employment status – as if he was considered to be an employee, or a worker, this could have had implications for many other individuals engaged under the same contract and potentially seen more individuals bringing claims alleging they were due holiday pay.

How we helped

We provided our advice on the merits of the case, concluding that in our view the contractor was unlikely to have worker or employee status. On the basis of this advice, we prepared Grounds of Resistance for the client to set out their defence of the claim and submitted this to the Tribunal. We also suggested to our client that the initial time estimate that the Tribunal had given to hear the case of one hour was not adequate to hear all the evidence, and drafted an application to the Tribunal to extend this. The application was granted and the case was extended to one day.

Project Planning

Our client wanted our assistance in relation to the claims process, but also felt that they could prepare certain parts of the claim themselves. The value of this particular claim was relatively modest, however there were wider implications and potential precedent issues for our client to consider if the case was not dealt with correctly. 

We agreed to assist on a behind the scenes basis. For example, we gave our client advice on how to prepare a list of documents and we checked this for them once they had completed the task but before they lodged the list with the Tribunal.

Outcome

When it became apparent that the contractor appeared to have stopped actively pursuing the claim, our client asked for our assistance in how to deal with the Tribunal. We recommended preparing an application to the Tribunal for an “unless order”, under the terms of which the contractor’s claim would be struck out unless he complied with the directions.

We assisted our client with preparing the application and the Tribunal made the order as requested. The claim was eventually dismissed by the Tribunal.  

This represented a great result for the client. The claim was struck out, but they had shown their workforce that they would be prepared to defend any further claims brought on that basis.