New tribunal ruling could affect ‘thousands’ of music teachers, warns top barrister

An employment tribunal ruling could affect the employment rights of thousands of peripatetic music teachers across the UK.

Employment specialist barrister Mugni Islam-Choudhury, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers has successfully argued that a peripatetic music teacher engaged by a school to provide services to pupils and parents should be recognised as a worker and is not self-employed in the case of Scott v Chigwell School.

Mugni was instructed by specialist employment solicitor, Michael Kerrigan, of the law firm Debenhams Ottoway, based in St Albans.

The ruling means the claimant is afforded certain rights and protections such as holiday pay, national minimum wage and whistleblower protections and protection from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. It follows significant rulings in the appeal courts which have had lots of Press coverage, such as in the case of Uber drivers and plumbers working for Pimlico Plumbers.

The ruling handed down by Employment Judge Moor at the East London Hearing Centre opens the way for peripatetic teachers nationwide to be awarded the same rights and protections if they are engaged by a school to provide music tuition during the school day, even if the lessons are paid for directly by the parents.

Mugni said:

“This paves the way for thousands of peripatetic teachers nationwide to have their employment status altered and for them to be given the same rights as workers.

“Schools across the country offer music lessons to pupils on the basis that the fee is paid privately to the tutor, but the service is facilitated by the school which has engaged the teacher.

“This will allow them to receive holiday pay, but importantly will give them protection as whistleblowers should they ever have cause to raise any safeguarding issues.

“Everyone in a school environment has a duty to raise safeguarding issues if there is a genuine concern, but unless the person is recognised as a worker there is no protection against their contracts being terminated at the whim of the school.”

He added:

“Contracts for these positions generally say the tutor is self-employed, but we successfully argued that just because that is what the contact says does not mean that they are not workers.

“In this instance, the music tuition was being offered to the parents by the school as part of the Music Department’s “offering”. The teacher was then engaged to fulfil that service. The teacher was very much integrated into to the school, able to use school facilities, being issued with an ID card and school email address, as well only being paid at a rate set by the school.”

Mr Islam-Choudhury was counsel in the hearing Scott v Chigwell School held at the East London Hearing Centre. He is Head of the Employment Group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers and recognised by the legal directories as a leading employment law barrister. To view his profile please visit: