Latest gig economy dispute gets underway

Latest gig economy dispute gets underway

An Employment Tribunal this week has heard the case of 27 artists and art lecturers who claim they were unfairly dismissed from London’s National Gallery.

The case is expected to set the record straight for individuals working in the gig economy.

The claimants say they should be treated as workers, rather than freelancers, which means they should have been entitled to basic workers’ rights, such as a proper dismissal process.

The freelance workers say they have suffered age and sex discrimination and are entitled to retrospective holiday pay.

The men and women were dismissed last year and were informed that they could re-apply for the same positions, albeit at reduced terms and pay.

The National Gallery argues that it dismissed the freelancers in order to gain more “secure employment”.

But workers say they were already working as if they were employed by the organisation. The evidence will show that they were paid through the gallery’s payroll, taxed at source and wore staff passes.

It is also reported that the freelance workers were required to attend training and meetings, given access to staff privileges and were subject to regular appraisals.

One of the educators who is bringing a case against the gallery said: “We were always aware that we were being unfairly treated and that we were due more rights, because it was quite apparent to us that our relationship with the National Gallery was as employees rather than freelancers. We had all the hallmarks of employees – paid via payroll, taxed via PAYE, given staff badges, and assessed and trained by the gallery.

“Our intention is to get recognition of our role from the sector. There are a lot of educators that have a similar relationship with museums. It could be a landmark case.”

A spokesperson from The National Gallery said: “The Gallery is not yet in receipt of the details of each complaint, but believes that [it has] acted both lawfully and fairly in changing [its] service provision to one of secure employment.”