• 20 JUN 14
    The tale of the referee and dodgy employment decisions

    The tale of the referee and dodgy employment decisions

    While many of us are feeling the pressure placed on the performance of England this World Cup, has anyone spared a thought for the referees?

    A single bad decision can lead to vilification from a nation of football supporters and in some cases can even lead to a sacking.

    A recent case has highlighted the need for clarification on the employment status of referees.

    Steve Conroy sued the Scottish Football Association (SFA) for unfair dismissal, age discrimination and holiday pay after he was sacked in 2013. The dismissal related to a Rangers penalty. This decision cost Rangers their win but cost Conroy his job.

    Is a football referee classed as an employee, a self-employed independent contractor or are referees not employees at all? In the Conroy case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that all three could be applicable.

    The Employment Appeals Tribunal dismissed Conroy’s appeal and upheld the decision that within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996, Conroy was not an employee. However he was held to be an employee for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and a worker under Working Time Regulations 1998.

    While the employment tribunal found facts that indicated a contract of employment such as the provision of health insurance, other factors including the lack of disciplinary procedures pointed away from employment.

    This case demonstrates the complexity of employment law and highlights the individuality of each case.

    If you are not clear on your obligations as an employer, it is important to seek legal advice to prevent the breach of your employment law responsibilities.

    For more information on this, or any other employment law matter, contact Michael Shroot on 0161 761 8087 or at Michael.Shroot@whnsolicitors.co.uk

    Michael Shroot is a Partner and Head of Employment Law at Woodcocks Haworth & Nuttall