It’s never straightforward, is it?

Please find below a guest blog from my good friend and colleague Cecily Lalloo of Embrace HR…

Have you ever watched “Judge Judy” the Florida judge whose court room dramas are televised?  This Judge has a straight-forward, down to earth approach.  The cases she hears are civil cases brought before her by the ordinary man and woman in the street.  Some of the cases are hilarious, others unbelievable, and others are definitely brought by people looking for ‘revenge’!  Judge Judy only takes into account facts and hard evidence.  If one of the claimants talks about what ‘so and so’ said or saw – she doesn’t want to know.  She asks in no uncertain terms why they haven’t brought a witness, or a photo, or a piece of paper to back up their arguments.

Judge Judy is frequently heard to say “it’s baloney, sir (madam)”, “can’t you hear what I’m saying – watch my mouth?”,  and in a raised voice she told a father who said his son was stupid – “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it sir!”.  The Judge’s solutions are usually quick and to the point, she makes short-shrift of those who have brought a claim in order to retaliate.  I enjoy watching the programme but my experience lies more with employer and employee.

What happens when there are troubles between employer and employee?  The troubles usually start when there is an end in sight.  An end to employment, or it may not even be employment.  There are cases where the problem arises at an end to an arrangement with a self-employed contractor, freelancer, etc. – often a long-term arrangement. There are many instances where case law has set a precedent on how a self-employed person (or persons) are seen to be employees in the eyes of the law.  And it is usually when a case is brought by the self-employed person/s say for unfair dismissal or under the Working Time Regulations.

How, you may ask?  When a case is brought, it may be challenged by the employer if they believe the person is not their employee.  In these cases certain tests are carried out by an Employment Tribunal (ET) to ascertain whether or not they are an employee (or ‘worker’).  The main tests are around ‘mutuality of obligation’ and a number of multiple tests.  No one test is seen as ‘the one’ but all are taken into consideration, together with contracts if such exist, and the whole relationship.

Some self-employed people work with other self-employed people, who may also be friends.  Often they don’t tend to have formal written contracts between them. Oft is the time when these relationships turn sour and the parties believe, in hindsight, that they should have had something in writing to ease the pain.

It’s at these times, unfortunately, that not only is an otherwise good friendship ruined, but time, reputation, health, and personal and possibly work relationships also suffer.  There is also the cost if matters spiral out of control and legal means are sought, and also the opportunity cost of the time spent sorting out the problems together with loss of performance and loss of focus on the business.

The question to ask is – is it worth not having a contract or written agreement, even if you are working with your friend?

For further details, contact:

Cecily Lalloo Chartered MCIPD – HR Specialist – Embrace HR

T: 01296 425 201 / E: / M: 07767 308 717

Embrace HR helps businesses without their own HR support, and the self-employed, to embrace HR, because people make profits.