The Supreme Court has held in the case of Clyde & Co LLP and another v Bates van Winkelhof, that a member of a limited liability partnership was a "worker" and therefore entitled to whistleblowing protection. Of greater interest from a pensions perspective is that the Regulator has also confirmed that the decision is relevant when considering whether LLP members are "workers" for the purposes of the auto-enrolment requirements.
The Supreme Court (overturning the Court of Appeal) held that a former equity partner of a law firm was a "worker" for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act. However, the decision means that LLP members may potentially fall within the scope of a range of other rights available to "workers", including the right to be auto-enrolled into a pension scheme.
LLP's - which are a popular structure for many professional services firms - should consider the implications of this case carefully and as a matter of urgency if they have already passed their auto-enrolment staging date. Each case will need to be considered on its individual facts, taking into account the "worker" test as laid down in case law, Regulator guidance, and potentially the LLP's pay structure in terms of what may count as qualifying earnings.