Pearson examiner and worker status

Posted on June 14th, 2023

The National Education Union (NEU) recently brought a test case seeking worker status for one of its members, who works for the exam board Pearson Education Limited.

During COVID-19, NEU members started contacting the union because Pearson had refused to furlough these individuals, stating that they were self-employed. However, HMRC believed they were employed and, therefore, not eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. This meant that these examiners had no source of income during this period.

In Ms P Anning v Pearson Education Limited, the employment tribunal held that Ms Anning is a ‘worker’ under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and in accordance with the relevant definition of the Working Time Regulations 1998. Pearson was accordingly ordered to pay the sum of £5,320 for backdated holiday pay.

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU stated:

“What this case has highlighted is that across the country the highly skilled and experienced professionals who are responsible for writing all exam papers, ensuring they are marked fairly and consistently and keeping the entire exam system going are all on precarious piecemeal contracts with no job security or employment rights afforded to them. The National Education Union is hopeful that this test case is just the beginning of securing improved employment rights and security for all those examiners who are integral to the smooth running of the UK’s exam system.”

Given the judgment, it is expected that the NEU will bring more claims on behalf of examiners.

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