The Supreme Court in Clyde & Co LLP v Bates van Winkelhof has ruled that members of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) are ‘workers’ under the Employment Rights Act (ERA). 

Ms Bates van Winkelhof, a member of Clyde & Co, was suspended and subsequently expelled from the LLP. Ms Bates van Winkelhof claimed that her treatment was a result of her blowing the whistle on alleged criminal activity in a connected overseas law firm. The LLP argued that Ms Bates van Winkelhof did not enjoy whistleblowing protection as she was not a ‘worker’ under the ERA. 

The Supreme Court held that Ms Bates van Winkelhof was a worker, as she performed services for the LLP, could not market her services as a solicitor to anyone other than the LLP and was an integral part of the LLP.

The decision of the Supreme Court may now mean that members may argue they are entitled to employment rights related to the status of ‘worker’, such as the right to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme. 

LLPs may now consider reviewing the treatment of their members with relation to pensions and other workers’ rights such as whistleblowing protection, protection against less favourable treatment for part-time working as well as rest breaks and paid holidays under the Working Time Regulations.