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June 7, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:53am

Freelance wins £8,000 holiday pay at tribunal against former Scotsman publisher

By James Walker

A freelance journalist has won more than £8,000 in holiday pay after a tribunal ruling against the former publisher of the Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday.

David Walsh worked for Scotsman Publications Ltd (now in administration) for several years, starting with a couple of days a month but later taking on eight-hour shifts five days a week.

He eventually became an assistant news editor at the publisher, according to a copy of the tribunal judgment seen by Press Gazette.

Walsh asked for holiday pay several times while at Scotsman Publications but did not receive any as he was deemed self-employed.

The employment tribunal ruled that Walsh met the legal definition of a worker, rather than an independent contractor. This meant he was entitled to full holiday pay and received £8,360 in compensation.

Scotsman Publications was part of Johnston Press, which went into administration last year. The titles are now owned by JPI Media.

In his ruling, the employment judge David Hoey said: “The claimant [Walsh] provided service personally to the respondent and he had limited rights to refuse to do so. In fact he rarely did so.

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“The person for whom the claimant was doing the work was not a client or customer of a business being run by the claimant.

“This could be the case if the work was carried out sporadically but the claimant began from 2015 to work lengthy hours each week. He was being treated as part of the respondent’s staffing.”

The judge added that Walsh was an “integral part” of the team he worked with and that his relationship with Scotsman Publications was “not an arm’s length relationship”.

National Union of Journalists’ Scotland organiser John Toner said: “We were always confident that Mr Walsh was a ‘worker’, and that the agreement did not reflect the reality of the working relationship.

“The agreement is still in use by JPI Media, and this judgment is likely to have implications for freelances who work for that company on a casual basis.

“The NUJ would welcome the opportunity to negotiate a more appropriate agreement.”

JPI Media said it had no comment on the case.

As Scotsman Publications Ltd is now in administration, the NUJ said this meant Walsh would have to recover the compensation from the national insurance fund.

The Johnston Press administrator Alix Partners was not present at the tribunal hearing, according to the tribunal judgement.

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