Recognition as employees rather than freelancers

A group of 27 artists and art lecturers who worked in the building overlooking Trafalgar Square in London, are claiming unfair dismissal and seeking to be recognised as employees rather than freelancers.

In order to claim for unfair dismissal, these workers must show they were employed under a contract of service and were not self employed working under a contract for services. The distinction between these two types of workers can be extremely blurred and difficult to distinguish.

The workers roles included welcoming school tours and members of the public, giving talks, workshops and information about the history of the institution and the works of art on display.

James Heard, the longest-serving claimant who worked there for 45 years, as reported by The Guardian Newspaper, said: “We are standing up for fair treatment for staff in the arts, and to protect the teaching expertise at the heart of our museums. Our national galleries are something the UK is extremely proud of and it is vital that the educators who hold the collective knowledge of these places are properly protected.”

Recent cases involving the issue of  workers employment status include firms such as UberDeliveroo and Pimlico Plumbers.

The National Gallery, as reported by The Guardian Newspaper, said: “It is our understanding that the claims have arisen out of the Gallery’s wish to change from offering ad hoc work to offering more secure employment, with additional pension and worker benefits. This change reflects the Gallery’s strategy to develop our programmes to increasingly reach new audiences and make the most of digital technology to widen our engagement.”

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