You and the Law – 20th April 2010

Frozen out

We went to a relative’s wedding reception at a country house and were put at a table near the kitchen door.  There was a terrific draught, and we became so cold that special arrangements had to be made to take us back to our hotel.  We missed the dance and our weekend was ruined.  However, the country house owners have rejected our claim for compensation on the grounds that we were not the paying clients and that it is an ‘old building’. RC

If there’s to be a question of compensation it will have to be raised by the wedding couple, who presumably organised (and paid for) the event.  If they were dissatisfied with the arrangements they could ask for some of their money back.  You have no legal relationship with the country house owners. If you had suffered some lasting injury at their hands you may have been able to sue them for negligence.

Outside system

I am regarded as a freelance, part-time worker who is self-employed.  My working hours are erratic, but it often means seven-day weeks at up to 70 hours a week. 

Payment is by verbal arrangement and is a mix of piece work and hourly rates, but since no pay slips are issued it’s not possible to check what rates are actually paid or deductions made.  It would seem that I’m outside the scope of the minimum wage and working hours regulations.  Can this be right?  JR

I wonder if you’re really self-employed?  You may work for several different people, but if you have to turn up for work on their premises at the time they state, do the work you’re told to do and leave when they say you may well be employed by them.  Home workers can be regarded as employees too. 

In that case, unless you present them with an invoice for work done, you are probably employed and are entitled to a pay slip as well as the minimum wage and paid holidays.  You would probably find it helpful to discuss this in more detail with a law centre or a solicitor specialising in employment matters.

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