Casuals and Homeworkers

Key Points

  • There is no legal definition of ‘casual worker’
  • From the employment law angle, two questions are likely to arise: - is the worker an "employee"? - If the answer is "yes", is he employed under a continuing ("global" or "umbrella") contract or under a series of individual separate contracts?
  • If the worker is not an "employee", he will not be entitled to full employment law rights (such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed) and his contract will not be a contract of employment. He may however qualify as a worker and have some legal protections.
  • If he is an employee under a series of individual separate contracts which apply only while he is actually working, it is unlikely that he will be able to build up the period of continuous employment required to be eligible for certain employment law rights.
  • In 2006 the Court of Appeal ruled that a teacher who worked on separate assignments for Cornwall County Council as a "home tutor" qualified as an employee (see Cornwall County Council v Prater CA 2006 EWCA Civ 102).
  • Each case has to be decided on its merits. The law is flexible on such matters and appears to recognise that, in modern conditions, employees can enjoy a greater degree of autonomy than might have been acceptable a few years ago without losing the status of "employee". 
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