14th September, 2023

Paul Gilroy KC retained by Scottish Football Association in challenge by women's national football team: Is an international footballer a "worker"?

Paul Gilroy KC has appeared before the Glasgow Employment Tribunal representing the SFA in proceedings brought by the Scottish women's national football team.

32 members of the women's first team squad brought claims of direct and indirect sex discrimination, drawing on comparisons with the men’s team.

Employment Tribunals now deal with a steady diet of claims involving the consideration of “worker” status, but usually from the perspective of s.230 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, and in particular s.230(3)(b) (“the limb b cases”). This is the case even in the sporting field, Varnish v British Cycling being a leading example. The SFA matter, however, was listed for a preliminary hearing for the purposes of determining whether the Claimants were “contract workers” within the meaning of s.41 of the Equality Act 2010.

The case involved particular focus on whether, applying s.41(5), a national football association “makes work available” to players when on international duty, and whether the relevant arrangements involve the player performing “contract work” within the meaning of ss.41(6) and (7).

The claims were withdrawn upon the matter being resolved without the need for a hearing.

Paul Gilroy KC was instructed by the Glasgow office of Burness Paull LLP.


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