News from the Courts

The Supreme Court delivered a very important decision on 16th July 2015 with regard to the employment status of 5 temporary vetinary inspectors (TVIs) who had been working (some for more than 30 years) in Mitchelstown for the Minister for Agriculture and Food. The Supreme Court has overturned the High Court’s determination that the Inspectors were deemed to be contractors.

This case is unique in that it was heard twice before the Employment Appeals Tribunal, twice before the High Court and finally in front of the Supreme Court, who has ordered that the Employment Appeals Tribunal now revisits the case for a third time.

The case shows how complex the issue of employment status is, and even with the traditional tests (see below), the outcome on whether an individual is an employee or contractor can be very difficult to define.

The traditional tests include the following:

1) Is the individual controlled in tems of the work being carried out and the hours worked

2) Are they receiving fixed hourly/weekly/monthly rates of pay

3) Does the individual work set hours each month

4) Do they have direct financial risk in carrying out the work

5) Does the individual work for more than one person/organisation

6) Does the individual receive extra time off/overtime

7) Does the individual receive expenses

These are only some of the tests for determining employment status, and employers are advised to take great care in ensuring that they consider status very carefully, and have adequate documentation on their determination, to avert any risks.