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Tribunal entitled to use partnership agreement as starting point for determining employment status

The label "salaried partner" has no particular status in law.

The EAT has held that in deciding that a salaried partner in an unlimited liability firm was a partner and not an employee, the tribunal was entitled to take the partnership agreement as a starting point before examining all the facts and circumstances to assess the nature of the parties’ relationship and the true agreement between them. The claimant argued that this was the wrong approach because the tribunal did not give sufficient consideration to the other evidence relevant to employment status.

However, the EAT said that the tribunal was entitled to take this approach because:

  • The parties accepted that their relationship was governed by it.

  • It had only been used as a starting point against which to test consistent and inconsistent factors pointing towards employment status.

  • The partner's claim that she was an employee was contradicted by formal documentation, which made it necessary to scrutinise aspects of the agreement to see if they reflected reality.

Morrison v Aberdein Considine and Company UKEATS/0018/17

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