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Contractor or Employee? Supreme Court Ruling

December 13, 2023

contractor or employee

Contractor vs Employee:

Understand the differences between contractor versus employees.

Contractors are usually people who set up and run their own business and responsible for their own tax affairs. They have their own process how to report on their duties for compliance with the regulatory authorities.

An employee has a dependent profession for someone else. Let’s take a look through Irish legislation.

The Irish Supreme Court has made a groundbreaking ruling, declaring that Domino’s pizza delivery drivers should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. This decision carries significant implications for the rights and responsibilities of both the workers and the company involved.

Decision taken by court regarding to contractor or employee:

The Supreme Court ruled on October 23rd that any individual working for someone else on a wage basis should be classified as a worker, not a contractor. This decision emphasizes that such individuals are entitled to the rights and protections associated with employment status. Additionally, the obligation for employers to deduct PAYE tax from employee salaries has played a significant role in shaping this determination.

The court referenced five key factors to determine whether a person is considered an employee or a contractor:

  1. Exchange of remuneration: Does the contract involve the exchange of wage or other remuneration for work?
  2. Worker providing own services: If so, is the agreement one where the worker is agreeing to provide their own services, and not those of a third party, to the employer?
  3. Employer’s control: If so, does the employer exercise sufficient control over the supposed employee to render the agreement one that is capable of being an employment agreement?
  4. Consistency with employment contract: If above three requirements are met, the decision maker must then determine whether the terms of the contract between employer and worker and the reality of the working arrangements are consistent with a contract of employment, or whether they point to some other form of contract.
  5. Legislative considerations: Finally, it should be determined whether there is anything in the particular legislative regime under consideration that requires the court to adjust or supplement any of the foregoing.

In all the aforementioned cases, it has been established that the contracts involve independent work, an exchange of payment, and lack employer control. However, in the specific scenario of Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers, they are recognized as workers on a wage basis, indicating a different employment relationship where control by the employer is evident.

This pivotal ruling carries broader ramifications for any business interacting with contractors and extends beyond just the gig economy.

Although it’s specifically a tax case, the Supreme Court explicitly stated that its ruling wouldn’t establish drivers’ continuous service for employment rights legislation. Nonetheless, this verdict holds immense significance for employers in discerning worker status. Misclassifying an individual as a contractor could result in potential tax obligations, social welfare liabilities, and legal disputes concerning employment law.

It is advisable to do this now before Revenue commence a detailed investigation with employers into their worker relationships.

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