The claimant in Conroy v Scottish Football Association Ltd was a qualified referee who officiated at Scottish Premier and Football League matches in his spare time for 12 consecutive seasons.  He lodged a claim of unfair dismissal and age discrimination, and a claim in respect of holiday pay.  The Association denied that he was an employee, arguing that he was a self-employed independent contractor.

The Tribunal Judge found that the claimant was a worker for the purposes of holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations.  She also decided he was an employee under the Equality Act (for his age discrimination claim) but not within the narrower definition of employee in the Employment Rights Act, so he could not bring an unfair dismissal claim.

The EAT dismissed the appeal.  The Tribunal Judge had considered all the evidence, as part of a big picture.  She had found some facts which could be indicative of employment, for example the provision of BUPA medical care for the claimant.  But a number of other matters pointed away from a contract of employment, such as:

  • the claimant could turn down the chance to referee matches and the Association could decline to offer him games – there was no "mutuality of obligation" therefore  
  • there was no sick pay and disciplinary procedures were operated by a panel which was separate from the Association  
  • the appointment letter described the claimant as an independent contractor  
  • tax treatment of match fees was not consistent with employment.