In the latest gig economy case, art educators have raised claims in the Employment Tribunal against the National Gallery for unfair dismissal in the hopes of securing recognition as employees as opposed to freelancers. A group of 27 artists and art lecturers with service varying between ten and forty years were dismissed with no acknowledgement of their employee status at the National Gallery.
The stance taken by the Gallery is that such individuals were regarded as ‘free-lancers’ and therefore are not entitled to the same protections under employment law as those with worker or employee status. Lawyers representing the claimants argued in a preliminary hearing this month that they were denied protection and rights available to employees, specifically regarding age and sex discrimination, as well as, holiday and sick pay.
The claimants have made specific reference to their day-to-day integrated working relationship as evidence of their employee status. They have stated that they were paid through the National Gallery payroll, taxed at source and wore staff passes. They were also required to attend staff training and team meetings and received formal reviews of their work.
A statement was released by James Heard, who provided 45 years’ service for the National Gallery who has declared: ‘We are standing up for fair treatment for staff in the arts, and to protect the teaching expertise at the heart of our museums. Our national galleries are something the UK is extremely proud of and it is vital that the educators who hold the collective knowledge of these places are properly protected.’
The group have set up a crowdfunding page on CrowdJustice, a website which enables individuals and groups to fundraise for legal action. The National Gallery Educators hope to raise £65,000 by mid-August to cover the legal costs of taking their claim to the Employment Tribunal. At present, an 8-day hearing has been scheduled to to start on 26th November 2018.
If you have any concerns about the employment status of your workforce, contact your Employment Solicitor or HR Consultant for guidance today.