As usual the sky falling in faction in UK dentistry have taken the High Court’s decision in favour of the Uber Drivers as the signal that the floodgates will open and this is the end for all self-employed associates.
In my opinion this should lead to more dental principals, associates, therapists and hygienists becoming more careful about their positions, taking advice from their financial and legal advisers and ensuring that their positions are secure and transparent.
As the Financial Times reported, “The judgment, however, rests on specific facts about the relationship between Uber and its employees. The court asserted that Uber set maximum fares, drivers had no say in their contracts and the application imposed penalties if drivers cancelled too many requests. This level of control meant drivers could not increase their income using “professional or entrepreneurial skill”, the court concluded, meaning they worked for Uber and not themselves.”
In the case of associates there are, or at least there should be, opportunities to increase their income through, “professional or entrepreneurial skill”. If there is not then of course their situation might attract the attention of HMRC. More to the point if there is no variation, no risk and no opportunities then there has never been a genuine argument about self-employed status.
This has been rumbling and gaining momentum since the introduction of fixed UDA contracts in 2006 and both sides (Providers and Performers) have been allowed to let things to roll on, hoping that nothing will change.
Of course, much of what is spoken on forums, and social media is opinionated and not valid, but it has put the wind up younger associates, many of whom are wrestling with the implications of Covid to their professional lives.
The advice remains the same. If you are an employer or principal ensure that anyone and everyone who claims self employed status has that claim supported by their accountant in writing at the start of every financial year. In turn if you are an individual claiming to be self employed there is a responsibility to work with an accountant who understands the variations of dental employment status and will support your claim.
Meanwhile both sides should be careful what they wish for.
And of course there had to be one of these.