A self-employed hairdresser has gained the right to claim for notice, holiday and redundancy pay in a ‘landmark’ case that has the potential to alter working conditions for thousands of beauty industry workers.
An employment tribunal agreed that 26-year-old Meghan Gorman should be entitled to the benefits of an employee at the central Manchester salon where she had worked on a self-employed basis.
Ms Gorman, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, told the tribunal that the Terence Paul salon, which she said kept 67% of her takings, set her hours of work.
Her legal adviser, non-practising solicitor Judith Fiddler of Direct Law & Personnel, said the preliminary judgment could affect thousands of hairdressers nationwide, adding that it could influence people in other professions, for example dentists, hygienists, delivery drivers and bookkeepers.
Tribunals and worker status
Ms Fiddler said: “The whole hairdressing industry and many others will be affected by this decision. The significance is huge, as many people who think they are self-employed are actually not.
“The influence of the Pimlico Plumbers and Uber drivers’ cases has changed the climate.”
Ms Fiddler explained that the case was that Ms Gorman was treated as an employee and was not genuinely self-employed, and therefore should benefit from employment law rights.
“Her bosses exercised tight control over all aspects of her work,” she said, despite her working under a contract termed Independent Contract for Services.
Terence Paul, which has five salons around the Manchester region, claimed the company’s self-employed hairdressers had control over the hours and days they worked, their starting and finishing times, treatments they could give and their holidays.
Ms Gorman disputed this, saying she had to work from 9am until 6pm from Monday until Saturday and had no control over pricing.
She also claimed she had to conform to Terence Paul’s standards of dress, use its products and had to inform the salon if she wanted time off.
Ms Gorman told a press conference: “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.”
Ms Porter worked for six years at the salon before it closed in 2019.
Ms Gorman will also pursue other claims against Terence Paul, including unfair and wrongful dismissal sexual discrimination and a failure to provide a written contract of employment. She will also be claiming for holiday pay, her lawyers said.
Employment tribunal Judge Marion Batten ruled in Ms Gorman’s favour in March, with the reasons for the ruling being released last week.
Ms Gorman is now to pursue other claims against Terence Paul including unfair and wrongful dismissal, sexual discrimination and a failure to provide a written contract of employment, as well as claiming for holiday pay, her lawyers said.
The TUC called on the government to use its planned Employment Bill to ensure “everyone gets full rights unless the boss can prove they are genuinely self-employed”.
TUC senior employment rights officer Tim Sharp said: “This is yet another case of the courts calling out false self-employment.
“The government needs to use its planned Employment Bill to ensure that everyone gets full rights unless the boss can prove they are genuinely self-employed.”
It is not yet known whether Terence Paul will appeal the court ruling.
Around 330,000 people work in the beauty industry in the UK, more than 80% of them women, according to industry figures.