Construction News

Wed November 29 2023

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Payroll firm awarded costs in ‘bogus employment’ case

9 Nov 11 Hudson Contract, the CIS contract and payroll provider, is claiming a landmark victory in its long-running legal war with the construction union Ucatt.

A claim that was brought by a Ucatt member has not only been thrown out by the London Central Tribunal, but also resulted in costs being awarded to Hudson Contract for the first time.

Hudson Contract director Ian Anfield said:  “The claimant was a freelance scaffolder who had earned £57,659 and £58,731 in two recent tax years, mostly on price-work and from more than one contractor.  He made his own decisions as to when he worked, never asked for holiday pay when absent from the workplace, and had claimed more than £17,542 in expenses associated with his self-employment

“The claim was backed – and financed – by Ucatt, which believes tradesmen should not be allowed to provide their services to companies unless they are employed.  It was one in a series of employment tribunal challenges, all of which have failed.  But on this occasion, the distinction is that Hudson Contract has been awarded costs, which rarely happens. 

“Now the precedent has been set, future claimants will know what to expect, and should perhaps bear in mind that we have never lost an Employment Tribunal case.

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“From a broader financial perspective, it’s a shame Ucatt members have to put up with their union subscriptions being wasted on a highly paid legal team that brings bogus employment claims on behalf of the self-employed.

“The case also demonstrates that so much of the union’s rhetoric about self-employed people being denied employments rights is nonsense; the self-employed scaffolder at the centre of this case was earning substantially more than an employee with similar skills.”

Hudson Contract says that it has offered to help Ucatt tackle the issue of bogus self-employment on a number of occasions.  Relations between the two organisations reached a low point several months ago, when – according to Hudson Contract - the union blocked a move that would have seen the B&CE benefit scheme provide accident and life cover through Hudson Contract to more than 10,000 labour-only subcontractors.

“The partnership would have helped secure the future of the not-for-profit fund, which was designed to benefit all construction workers, not just those who are union members, or on PAYE,” Mr Anfield added.  “It’s a pity the B&CE was forced to withdraw by the Ucatt officials sitting on their board.”

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