Landmark case on employment status in the Beauty Industry

The Employment Tribunal has ruled in a preliminary hearing that a self-employed hairdresser was entitled to claim her notice pay, holiday pay and statutory redundancy pay.  This decision will impact 330,000 people who work in the beauty industry, many of whom are women.

The focus of attention was on a 26-year-old hairdresser – Meghan Gorman who worked at the Terence Paul Salon based in Clitheroe, Lancashire.   She had worked there for six years until it closed last year.

During the hearing it was heard that the salon kept 67% of Ms Gorman’s takings and set her hours of work.  In short, they controlled the work that she undertook in terms of when and how it was undertaken.

Terence Paul who owns five luxury salons in the Manchester area alleged that the company’s ‘self-employed hairdressers’ had control over their hours and the days that they worked, their start and finish times, the treatments that they could give clients and their holidays.

Ms Gorman in her evidence to the employment tribunal said that she had to work from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and that she had no control over what she charged clients.  She also said that she had to conform to the Salon’s dress code, use its products and had to inform the Salon if she wanted time off.

After the hearing Ms Gorman said “ They clearly had the power and control.  I did not believe it could be considered I was in business on my own account…..I had thought for some time that the contract they had in place was not right, saying I was self-employed when they had all those rules in place”.

Thanks to the ruling of Employment Judge Marion Batten, Ms Gorman is now able to pursue her claims for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, sex discrimination, and a failure to provide a written statement of employment, as well as a claim for holiday pay arrears through to a full merits hearing.

Ms Gorman was represented by a non-practising Solicitor Judith Fiddler of Direct Law and Personnel.  She said following the decision that this preliminary judgment could affect thousands of hairdressers nationwide and could influence people in other professions, for example dentists, hygienists, delivery drivers and bookkeepers.  She went on to say, “Her bosses exercised tight control over all aspects of her work, despite her working under a contract termed Independent Contract for Services”.

Although the hearing and decision was confirmed back in March 2020 , the written reasons have only just been released this week.   It remains to be seen whether there is an appeal against the ruling.

If you have any concerns over employment status then contact Steven Eckett – Partner and Head of Employment at Meaby & Co LLP. or 020 7703 5034