The case of the self employed car valeters and their treatment as employees

This case relates to the employee status of 20 self employed car valets, who were employed on a self employment basis at a client site of the company Autoclenz Ltd.

Each valet held a contract of employment with Autoclenz, named as either a ‘subcontractor’ or ‘self employed independent contractor’. In 2004 they were taxed as self employed workers and not as employees.

By 2007, Autoclenz had amended each valets contract to remind them that they could have substitutes perform their duties as they had no tie to Autoclenz. Further it was reiterated that there was no guarantee of hours for the valet’s. This was Autoclenz’s attempt at ensuring that, contractually, the valets were bracketed as self employed.

This was unsuccessful as the valet’s lodged employment tribunal claims against Autoclenz asking for clarification as to their status with Autoclenz.

The Tribunal found in the valet’s favour that they were in fact working under a contract of service, the same as an employee, regardless of Autoclenz attempt to remove the clauses of personal service and mutual obligation.

The Tribunal found that the contractual terms were not a true reflection of the working relationship between the parties and therefore the valet’s should be treated as employees, even if their was no intention on the part of Autoclenz to deceive the valet’s.

The Tribunal further discussed that regardless of contractual working, in conduct reflects more accurately the status of a worker then this is how they will be defined as this will more accurately show the agreement that is intended to exist between the employees.


Published: 04 Nov 2011

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