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Legal win on self-employment

BALPA is delighted with the court win for one of its members that is likely to have significant wider implications for aviation in terms of the employment status and rights of so called ‘self-employed’ pilots and agency workers.

An Employment Appeal Tribunal has handed down the attached judgment in our case of Lutz v Ryanair & Storm Global (formerly MCG Aviation).

This appeal came about when both Ryanair and Storm Global appealed our successful ET ruling from last year.

BALPA is delighted to have won across the board with both appeals by Ryanair and Storm Global dismissed in their entirety.

This is a major legal victory for BALPA on behalf of Mr Lutz and in turn our Ryanair contractor pilot members, and for workers’ rights generally. We have established that the member in whose name we brough this test claim, Jason Lutz, was a ‘crew member’ and a ‘worker’ of Storm Global (and that the intermediary company he was required to set up was a ‘sham’), thereby entitling him to holiday pay and other rights; and that he was an ‘agency worker’ of both Storm Global and Ryanair, which entitles him to the same employment conditions as those pilots recruited directly to Ryanair after a certain period of service.

You can hear Jason Lutz speak about the support BALPA has given him here:

The Employment Tribunal judgment which was upheld (which you can read in full here) stated the following:

‘Mr Lutz was not in business in his own account and Ryanair and MCG [Storm Global] were not his clients; that there was a complete imbalance of power and Mr Lutz was not able to alter anything about the arrangements; that the service company he was required to use was a fiction; that the substitution clause in the written agreement was a sham; and that the dominant purpose of the arrangement was for Mr Lutz to provide personal service as pilot to Ryanair.’

BALPA was represented by Alice Yandle and Caitlin Farrar of Farrer & Co, and Michael Ford KC and Stuart Brittenden of Old Square Chambers. Farrer & Co commented that:

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal has robustly rejected Ryanair’s and Storm Global’s (formerly MCG’s) grounds of appeal in full. The decision to uphold the Employment Tribunal’s findings has immense implications for the use of the pilot contractor model in the aviation sector, and leaves the way open for other potential claims by pilots engaged under similar arrangements.”

Interim General Secretary and Head of Legal Services at BALPA, Miranda Rackley said:

“Once again the courts have ruled in our favour and that’s not only good news for Jason Lutz, but also for all the other similarly purported “self-employed” pilots in the aviation sector.

“We urge Ryanair and Storm Global to take note of the ruling and to focus on working with BALPA to set out clearer, more secure forms of employment for their pilots.”