Employment Cases Update

Varnish v British Cycling Federation (t/a British Cycling) UKEAT/0022/20/LA

Date published: 21/07/2020

Appeal against the ET’s finding that the Claimant was not an employee of the Respondent or a worker. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant, a talented professional cyclist, entered into a written agreement with the Respondent, pursuant to which she undertook (amongst other things) to train hard for the common purpose of winning medals for the British cycling team; the agreement expressly provided that it was not a contract of employment. When the Claimant's relationship with the Respondent was terminated for performance-related reasons, she brought claims in the ET for unfair dismissal and discrimination. At a preliminary hearing to determine whether the Claimant had employee and/or worker status, the ET found that there was no "mutuality of obligation" between the Claimant and the Respondent, and that there was no personal performance consistent with a contract of employment, so the Claimant's claim that she was employed by the Respondent failed; further, the ET concluded that the Claimant was not a worker within the meaning of section 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Claimant appealed on the grounds that the ET had erred in law in finding that there was no "mutuality of obligation" between her and the Respondent, and in concluding that she was not a "limb (b) worker".

The EAT held that the ET, having determined that there was a contract, did not err in law in its consideration of whether the contract should be categorised as one of employment; further, it held that the ET's conclusion that the Claimant was not party to a contract whereby she undertook to do or perform personally any work or services for the Respondent was a permissible finding.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.