Compensation for freelance workers denied their rights


Prospect wins compensation for freelance workers denied their rights

Two members of the BECTU sector have won compensation after they were denied employment rights

In the first case, the member had been working as a freelancer for a well-known media company for several months.

As a worker, he should have been entitled to holiday pay. But shortly after raising this with the employer, he was told that there was no more work for him.

He sought advice from Simon Nightingale, a BECTU organiser, who raised the case with Prospect legal.

The legal team submitted a tribunal claim for the holiday pay and for unlawful detriment because he had been dismissed for seeking to assert his statutory rights. The case was eventually settled with a compensation payment.

Simon said: “Many freelance workers are entitled to statutory rights, particularly holiday pay. But they are not always aware of this and often lose out. The union can help them secure these rights.”

The second case involved a member who had been working for a company as a freelancer for many years.

The work was being moved to another area of the country and the member was dismissed as a consequence. The company said he was not entitled to redundancy pay because he was not an employee.

But Prospect contended that the reality of the working arrangements meant that he was an employee.

The union advised him to make an application to ACAS for early conciliation as a first step towards starting employment tribunal proceedings. The case was settled during conciliation and he received his full redundancy payment.

Employment status

Many workers are engaged on a freelance or consultancy basis and treated as self-employed, with no employment rights.

Prospect has taken many cases to tribunals when workers were denied statutory rights and the ‘self-employed’ label was not a true reflection of the working arrangements.

The three types of employment status are:

  • employees with full rights
  • workers with lesser rights, and
  • the genuinely self-employed.

Download Prospect’s Members’ Guide to Atypical Workers.