NUJ wins important tribunal decision over a freelance's right to holiday pay
6 June 2019
The NUJ has won an important tribunal victory on behalf of a freelance member, who was awarded £8,360, over his right to holiday pay.
David Walsh had worked on a casual basis for Scotsman Publications Ltd for a number of years. Although he had asked for holiday pay on several occasions, it was refused on the grounds that he was self-employed.
In taking this position, the company relied on its standard freelance contract, which states that the freelance is self-employed and an independent contractor.
The tribunal ruled that the reality of the working relationship was different, and that David met the statutory definition of ‘worker’. By meeting this definition, he was entitled to paid holidays.
As he was not afforded this right during his engagement, Mr Walsh was awarded £8,360 in compensation.
What makes this case unusual is that the company is now in administration, and the compensation must be recovered from the National Insurance Fund. Scotsman Publications Ltd was the holding company of newspapers including The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, Edinburgh Evening News. It was sold to Johnston Press which last year initiated a pre-pack administration process and its assets were acquired by JPIMedia.
John Toner, the NUJ’s national organiser for Scotland, welcomed the judgment. He said:
“We were always confident that Mr Walsh was a ‘worker’, and that the agreement did not reflect the reality of the working relationship. The agreement is still in use by JPIMedia, and this judgment is likely to have implications for freelances who work for that company on a casual basis. The NUJ would welcome the opportunity to negotiate a more appropriate agreement. Mr Walsh was represented by Thompsons Solicitors, the NUJ’s solicitors. We thank Thompsons for their sound advice and representation.”