The claimants in Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher, [2011] UKSC 41 [Link available here], entered into contracts with Autoclenz, which provided car-cleaning services to vehicle retailers and auctioneers. The agreements with Autoclenz went to some lengths to describe each individual claimant as being self-employed. The claimants disagreed, saying they were employees of Autoclenz and thus ‘workers’ eligible for minimum wages and other statutory benefits.

The Employment Tribunal, the English Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court all agreed with the claimants. However they were described in their contracts with Autoclenz, they had no control over what work they would perform, their hours or pay, and were subject to the direction and control of Autoclenz or its customer. Protestations about self-employment simply bore ‘no practical relation to the reality of the relationship’.