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Employment Tribunal Update: The sour taste of success

Ian Anfield | 11th November 2013

Back in April, I shared with you the details of the most frustrating Employment Tribunal hearing I’ve encountered during my five years with Hudson Contract: a subbie was claiming disability discrimination and unfair dismissal for raising a health and safety concern.

The Judge felt he could not resolve the case there and then, so a full three-day hearing took place last month.

We maintained throughout that the claimant’s case was completely unfounded and a cynical attempt to get his hands on some easy money, and our position was vindicated when thankfully – but not unexpectedly – we won every argument and the claimant walked away without a penny.

Over the years, we have formally responded to over 100 Tribunal claims for inferred or worker rights. While no claim bought against us has ever been successful, this hearing was our longest and most expensive yet. Our direct legal costs come to £15,000 alone – and that’s before you consider the many hours of work that went into this case.

Our client, a Southampton civil engineering contractor, also invested a lot of effort into the case. I interviewed six members of staff about events surrounding the claim, and two of these became witnesses at the Tribunal. In particular, the firm’s payroll administrator gathered a huge mass of evidence to support our case, and I believe this certainly helped the Judge when he had to consider two conflicting versions of the same events.

Ten reasons why Hudson Contract won the case

The Judge took almost an hour to talk us through his considerations in coming to the conclusion that the claims had no value. Important factors included:

  1. Our client had a set process for introducing the Hudson Contract to potential sub-contractors
  2. The sub-contractors knew their contract was with Hudson Contract, and knew they would be engaged on a self-employed basis
  3. The claimant had not been denied the right of substitution, and the contract clearly states he could have sent one
  4. The claimant did not work set hours, even though the site did have them
  5. Our client knew it did not have to offer the claimant work In parting company, our client did not treat the claimant like an employee
  6. The claimant did not have to use holiday request forms
  7. The claimant did not have to go through the disciplinary process that was used by the client’s employees
  8. The claimant profited from his self-employed status by paying lower taxes
  9. The claimant lied about the circumstances of his dismissal, and his version of events changed as the hearing went on

So how come this isn’t a Good News story?

Agreed, this is another notch on the bedpost for Hudson Contract. And yes, it’s a further demonstration that the Hudson Contract 100% Employment Guarantee does what it says on the tin.

However, after three days in Tribunal on the South Coast… months of preparation… an incredible amount of work from out client… missing my son play football… a few more grey hairs… and a hefty legal bill, I don’t much feel like celebrating.

Make sure it never happens to you

For all these reasons – and at the risk of repeating myself – prevention is better than cure.

Please make sure:

  • You are aware of what the Hudson Contract says and means 
  • You always use our Method Statement Card when signing up sub-contractors
  • You use our audit (part of ePay) 
  • You don’t hesitate to ask if you or your staff need Hudson Contract training. It’s free – and it could save everyone a great deal of time along the line

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