The question of employee status has come before the EAT for the third time in just over a month. In Knight v Fairway & Kenwood Car Service Ltd the claimant was a mini-cab driver who worked on what was called an "open shift" basis. This meant that he was able to work as and when he liked and could sign on and off at any time that suited him. In practice the claimant worked a seven day week.
When his engagement came to an end the claimant brought a wrongful dismissal claim. However, to succeed in his claim he needed to be able to show that he was an employee. It is well understood that for an employment relationship to exist there must be "an irreducible minimum of obligation" between the parties. Under the terms of the contract the claimant had entered into he was under no obligation to accept a minimum or reasonable amount of work.
Consequently, the necessary degree of mutuality of obligation did not exist; the fact that the claimant had worked regularly because of his financial circumstances did not change that.
There was no suggestion in this case that the agreement between the parties did not reflect the reality of the relationship between them. The conclusion might well have been different had that not been the case.