In North Wales Probation Area v Edwards, the EAT considered whether a casual worker who did not have to accept work when offered, and who could arrange for another casual worker to do work offered to her, was employed under a contract of employment. Mrs D A Edwards was placed on a list of relief hostel workers after signing a document titled “Relief Hostel Worker Contract,” which set out terms and conditions under which the Probation Service offered “sessional employment”. Relief hostel workers could decline to work any particular shift or could make arrangements for another relief hostel worker to cover the shift for them. Mrs Edwards claimed unfair dismissal and a preliminary question arose as to whether she was an employee. The tribunal ruled that when working a session, Mrs Edwards was doing so as an employee. The Probation Service appealed. In dismissing the appeal, the EAT rejected the Probation Service’s submissions that since Mrs Edwards was free to send someone else, there was no obligation to provide personal service, an essential prerequisite of employment, and that she was free to leave even during a session and without good reason. The EAT held that once Mrs Edwards attended work for a particular session, she was bound to do the work personally and could not arrange for someone else to do it instead. The correct position was, therefore, that there was a succession of individual employment contracts covering sessions when Mrs Edwards was actually working.
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Lack of continuing mutuality of obligation does not prevent a person being an employee
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