Meaning Of “contract worker” Defined By Court Of Appeal

12 May 2010

The Court of Appeal has shed light on the meaning of a “contract worker” as defined in section 7 of the Race Relations Act 1976.

Mr Woodhouse (of African Caribbean origin) issued a claim of race discrimination against West North Homes Leeds Ltd, Leeds City Council and an employee of Leeds City Council (a Mr Chapman). The respondent appealed the claim (without success) on the grounds that Mr Woodhouse couldn’t lawfully bring a race discrimination claim as he was not a “contract worker” as defined under section 7.

A government programme to improve the efficiency of running housing operations lead the Council to establish a series of Arm-Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) ­ one of which was West North Homes Leeds Ltd. Mr Woodhouse (along with several other employees) moved from Leeds City Council to West North Homes Leeds Ltd under TUPE.

Although this case does not present a simple agency relationship, the Court of Appeal approved the first instance reasoning that the legislation should be broadly assembled. Given the objective of presenting a solution to victims of discrimination who would otherwise be without one, the following applies:

1) It is not compulsory for a budding “contract worker” to determine a respondent has control or influence over the work he did.
2) There was no requirement to show the purpose of obligation between the two parties was the supply of labour West North Homes Leeds Ltd could not perform its obligations without the employment of labourers to do the work. Therefore the supply of workers was in accordance to an obligation under that contract.
3) As West North Homes Leeds Ltd was an entirely owned subsidiary with one client (Leeds City Council), everything done by anyone from West North Homes Leeds Ltd was also being done for Leeds City Council.

To read the case in more detail, click here.