More rights for (some) regulars

SOME freelances or regular casuals who have been in a regular working relationship on fixed-term contracts for more than four years may in some circumstances be able to benefit from employment regulations that recently came into force. Below is a summary of advice to the Freelance from NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff. The full text of his article can be found here.

The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 came into force in July. Employees who have worked for the same employer on two or more continuous fixed- term contracts for four years or more now have rights and protection equivalent to those of permanent staff. Many long-term "hourly paid lecturers" in education are expected to test the regulations soon.

Obviously, freelances aren't usually classed as employees. But recently, courts and Employment Tribunals have tended to rule that workers have had "employee status" more so than previously. What matters is how the relationship actually works in practice. Applications for a ruling on whether a regular freelance has employee rights can be made to Employment Tribunal.

The NUJ recently succeeded in a Tribunal establishing the employee status of a regular, long time "casual" sub-editor who worked Saturday shifts for a newspaper, winning that member and other workmates employee status benefits. So the employment status of workers is a complex and grey area of law, which is fast developing.

If you think there's a chance your long-term working relationship with a client standing up as equivalent to employee status in an Employment Tribunal, contact the Freelance Office. John Toner's talk on the lot of casual subs is reported here.

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