Heathrow Airport Beautician 'Not an Employee', Court Rules

Those who offer their personal services through their own private companies may achieve tax advantages; however, a Court of Appeal decision in the case of an airport beautician has underlined that they may also sacrifice their employment rights (Halawi v WDGF Limited).

Ms Halawi worked in a cosmetics store on the secure 'airside' of Heathrow Airport. Her workplace was managed by WDGF Limited, which oversaw a large number of duty free outlets; however, Ms Halawi provided her services through a limited company that she had set up for the purpose.

After her security pass was withdrawn by WDGF, making it impossible for her to get to work, she launched Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings, claiming that she had been dismissed from her employment and discriminated against on religious grounds. In a ruling that was later upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the ET dismissed her claim on the basis that WDGF did not employ her.

In rejecting her appeal against that decision, the Court noted that Ms Halawi had had no entitlement to sickness or holiday pay and had been entitled to send a substitute worker when she was unavailable for shifts. The ET was entitled to consider the 'substance of the situation' in finding that WDGF had no control over her save for its control of the premises at which she worked.

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