Was a cricket club groundsman, operating through his own business, a worker, thereby entitling him to holiday pay?

No, decided the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of Waters v The Mote Cricket Club.

The Mote Cricket Club has two cricket pitches on grounds at Maidstone in Kent. It had employed a groundsman from about 2000. It was common ground between the parties that he had been an employee of the Club. As part of his contractual arrangements, he had licence to live in residential accommodation at Moteside.

Mr Waters was a member of the Club and, latterly, of the committee. He had, on occasion, worked as a volunteer and/or casual worker assisting the groundsman. In 2011 he started a business, Green Hand Gardens, which provided gardening and grounds services, including the maintenance of another cricket pitch.

The employed groundsman vacated Moteside in 2016. It was eventually decided that his replacement, Mr Waters, was to be engaged as a self-employed contractor. The parties then fell out over money. Mr Waters claimed, inter alia, holiday pay, asserting he was a ‘worker’.

Core to this case, said the Judge, was the assessment of whether Mr Waters was genuinely in business on his own account and whether the club was a customer of that business. The tribunal concluded that was the case, even though the club was substantially the major customer of that business. It also noted that the financial contribution of the respondent to the annual turnover was £22,000 out of a total of £40,000.

The EAT held the tribunal was entitled to conclude that there was no “sham” agreement. As he was genuinely self-employed, running his own business, said the EAT, Mr Waters was not a ‘worker’, entitled to holiday and other benefits attached to worker status.