In our August 2016 Health Law Update, we commented on a Court of Appeal decision on the government's Carer Support Scheme. Mrs Lowe provided care for disabled individuals that she knew through acquaintances and, as part of this, she received a subsidy under the Carer Support Scheme. Mrs Lowe claimed that this made her a "homeworker" under the Employment Relations Act 2000 and therefore meant that she was an employee of either the Ministry of Health or Capital and Coast District Health Board, who funded the Carer Support Scheme payments. The Court of Appeal overturned a decision of the Full Employment Court which had found that she was a "homeworker" and therefore deemed to be an employee, and held that there was no employment relationship between Mrs Lowe, the Ministry of Health or Capital and Coast District Health Board.
Soon after the Court of Appeal decision was released, the union E tū announced that it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on Mrs Lowe's behalf. Leave was granted to appeal in November 2016, and the case was heard by the Supreme Court earlier this month. Given that there has been little guidance on the interpretation of "homeworker" by the courts, and the history of this case, the Supreme Court's decision will be significant for many, not only Mrs Lowe. We will send out an update following the Supreme Court decision.