Truth Legal Q&A @ the AGM on 25th April 2020

Updated: Jun 30

Employment categories:

Employee – there are very high standards of proof, difficult to be categorised as an employee without this being specified in the contract.

Worker/Self-employed/volunteer – the degree of control you have over your work is central to this, eg how freely you can choose to accept or turn down work without negative consequences. Most counsellors working for an agency or counselling service should be able to argue that they are workers because they do not have complete control over which clients they see, the hours they are expected to work, etc. Likewise, many ‘volunteer’ counsellors in placements could argue this.

Important to note that what it says in your contract/work agreement does not necessarily determine this question – in law, what counts is what actually happens in work arrangements, so although your contract may define you as ‘self-employed’ or a ‘volunteer’, you may still have a case for arguing that you are a worker with certain basic rights (see ACAS summary). Internships also fall into this category – legally the key question is what your relationship is to the organisation you are working for, whether or not they are paying you. NB even if there is not a written contract, verbal agreements about working arrangements still count as contracts in law.

Room hire: If you are being prevented from using your hired consulting room (eg the building is closed) but still asked to pay rent, you could argue ‘frustration of contract’.

Differential pay scales for remote or phone work: In a legal challenge, there would be a need to clarify the reasoning behind the differences – why is therapy considered less valuable if it is not face-to-face? What is the justification for paying less?

Returning to workplaces: If put under pressure to work in a situation that seems unsafe (eg because of the risk of COVID-19 infection); there is potential to use Health & Safety law, consider the public interest implications of risk to others. Legislation around whistleblowing is also relevant in protecting staff who raise concerns about workplace safety.

#PCU_AGM20 #workersrights #COVID19

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