Pilot wins employment status challenge against Ryanair

26 April 2022

  • The Employment Tribunal (ET) has found that a pilot working for Ryanair through intermediary company, MCG Aviation Limited, was an agency worker within the meaning of regulation 3(1) of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (“AWR”) and therefore entitled to holiday pay and sick pay.
  • In their judgement the Judge discussed the aspects of Mr Lutz’s engagement with MCG and Ryanair and found in Mr Lutz favour on all of the issues.

Summary of the case

  • Mr Jason Lutz was supplied by MCG Aviation Limited (“MCG”) to work temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of Ryanair DAC (“Ryanair”).
  • Mr Lutz was required to perform services personally by virtue of his contract with MCG.
  • The opt out completed by Mr Lutz did not exclude him from the definition of “agency worker” under the AWR because the claimant did not carry on a profession or business in which either MCG or Ryanair was a client or customer.
  • Mr Lutz was a pilot for Ryanair and the claim made by him has significant impact on others who are in precisely the same position.
  • Mr Lutz was a contracted pilot which Ryanair arranged for the second Respondent to manage (MCG). MCG refer this pool of pilots to accountants who set up the pilots with service companies so that they can be deemed as self-employed.
  • The pilots engaged in this way are treated exactly the same as the pilots employed by Ryanair and the only small difference is in the airside ID which can be used to distinguish between the two types of pilots.

Factors which led ET to decide Mr Lutz is an agency worker

  • Mr Lutz had to pass Ryanair competency assessments.
  • Mr Lutz had a Ryanair uniform.
  • Mr Lutz was put on a rota by Ryanair.
  • The planes could not fly without Mr Lutz being there and so this made him integral to the business.
  • The assignment was temporary as it was a five-year fixed term assignment.
  • There was no right of substitution and the documentation to purport otherwise was a sham.
  • Mr Lutz worked under the supervision and direction of Ryanair.
  • Mr Lutz had to obtain permission for absences.

Aspire Comment

This case further compounds the theory that consideration of the reality of the contract in deciding employment status is relevant. This case puts a clear emphasis on the complexity of employment status.

If you need any support with employment status or the AWR, call us today on 0121 445 6178 or email enquire@aspirepartnership.co.uk.