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Debenhams Ottaway were recently involved in an Employment Tribunal case which could affect the employment rights of thousands of peripatetic teachers across the UK.

In the case of Scott v Chigwell School and Others, Michael Kerrigan acted on behalf of Mrs Scott, a music teacher, who had previously worked at the private school. The hearing, to consider the employment status of Mrs Scott and whether she could proceed with various claims against the school and others, found that Mrs Scott, who was engaged by the school to provide services to pupils and parents should be recognised as a worker and was not genuinely self-employed.  This was despite the fact that the contract between the parties stated that Mrs Scott was self-employed.

The ruling means that Mrs Scott should have been afforded certain rights and protections whilst teaching at the school such as holiday pay, national minimum wage and whistle-blower protections and protection from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

The ruling handed down by Employment Judge Moor at the East London Hearing Centre opens the way for peripatetic teachers nationwide to be awarded the same rights and protections if they are engaged by a school to provide music tuition during the school day, even if the lessons are paid for directly by the parents and even if their contracts state that they are self-employed.

Commenting on the case Michael Kerrigan of Debenhams Ottaway said:

“This is a landmark ruling that has implications for both schools and individual teaching staff affording them similar rights to those of full time staff. It is a further reminder that Employment Tribunals, when considering the employment status of an individual, will look beyond the wording of contracts and will look at the reality of the relationship between the parties”

Debenhams Ottaway Employment team Partner Louise Attrup said:

“I anticipate that this ruling could result in other cases coming before tribunals. In addition to this we are recommending that schools, colleges and other learning based organisations look closely at their terms and conditions of employment/appointment.”

Debenhams Ottaway instructed specialist employment barrister Mugni Islam-Choudhury, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers to represent Mrs Scott at the Employment Tribunal hearing.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.