04 Mar 2019

No artful dodge for UK National Gallery at gig tribunal

Employment tribunal in UK find for 27 claimants in case concerning the rights of workers at National Gallery.


Twenty- seven claimants who started litigation against the National Gallery over a year ago have won their case to be given the rights of workers. The case is believed to be the first in the public sector, and follows on from several high profile gig economy cases, including Uber.

Classified as workers

The Employment Tribunal found the claimants should be classified as workers, though their legal right to this status had been denied by the National Gallery for several decades. The tribunal judge concluded that ‘in short, the claimants worked “for” the Gallery as members of its team of educators’ despite the arguments offered by the Gallery. The National Gallery ended their employment in October 2017, which collectively came to over 500 years, and they had not been given any holiday, sick pay, pension or maternity pay despite having paid taxes through the payroll as employees. The National Gallery alleged that the individuals were ‘self-employed’ but the  tribunal judge found this to be ‘unsustainable.’ The Judge said that ‘it is unreal to describe the dealings between the parties as transactions in which the Gallery stood as the “client or customer of any business undertaking” carried on by any of the lead Claimants.’

Unconventional work patterns

However, the claimants will now need to fight their case to ensure their full rights are acknowledged as a result of this judgment. Marie van der Zyl, partner at Ince Gordon Dadds, who led the case on behalf of the 27 Claimants with her team Julia Whyte and Oriana Williams says ‘this is an important case for all those who have unconventional working arrangements.  The world of work is changing and there will be many individuals who are unsure of their status and rights.  This case gives those individuals hope.’

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