EAT Upholds Worker Status of Ryanair Pilot in Key Case Law Analysis

Citation: [2023] EAT 146
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case of Ryanair DAC & Anor v Jason Lutz, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) was tasked with adjudicating on appeals concerning the status of the claimant, Mr. Lutz, as both a “crew member” under the Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations 2004 (CAWR) and as an “agency worker” under the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 (AWR). This article analyses the legal principles applied in the case, their relation to the facts, and the EAT’s corresponding rulings.

Key Facts

Mr. Lutz, a pilot supplied to Ryanair by Storm Global Limited (MCG), claimed unpaid accrued annual leave against MCG and sought equal employment conditions as if directly recruited by Ryanair, invoking both the CAWR and AWR. Central to the resolution of the claims was the determination of Mr. Lutz’s status under both regulations. The claims prompted an examination of the nature of his engagement, the legitimacy of the substitution clause in his contract, the supply duration under AWR, and his work’s actual nature versus the written contract.

Employment Relationship Under EU Law and CAWR

The tribunal addressed the question of whether Mr. Lutz was “employed” by MCG by reference to an “employment relationship” in the EU law sense. The appeal centered on whether an employment relationship could exist in a tripartite arrangement between an individual, an agency, and an end-user. Here, the court followed the CJEU decision in Allonby, which recognizes such a possibility if the agency pays the remuneration and the services themselves are directed and received by the end-user.

Worker Status Under the EU Charter

Mr. Lutz’s classification as a “worker” under Article 31 of the EU Charter was upheld, and this status was considered synonymous with being “employed” for the purposes of CAWR. The unchallenged determination served as an alternative basis for dismissing an appeal ground, reinforcing the finding under CAWR.

The Meaning of “Temporarily” in AWR

A key issue was whether Mr. Lutz was supplied by MCG to work “temporarily” for Ryanair. The EAT relied on previous authorities (Moran, Brooknight, Angard) that define “temporarily” as not permanent and not necessarily short-term. The EAT underscored the importance of the five-year fixed term arrangement in practice as determinative.

Right to Substitute and Personal Service

The EAT considered whether a right to swap duties amounted to a right to substitute, impacting the obligation of personal performance. The EAT found that a sham substitution clause and the regulatory context did not negate the obligation for personal performance despite a limited right of duty rearrangement.

Outcomes

The EAT dismissed the appeals by Ryanair and Storm Global Limited, upholding the tribunal’s decisions. MCG permission to amend their grounds of appeal to include an Additional Ground related to personal performance was granted but subsequently dismissed along with all other grounds of appeal.

Conclusion

The EAT’s decision in Ryanair DAC & Anor v Jason Lutz underpins the assessment of employment relationships within a tripartite setting and reinforces the application of EU law concepts in domestic regulations. The case elucidates the interpretation of “temporarily” within the context of the AWR and demonstrates that fixed-term contracts do not preclude an arrangement from being classified as temporary. The decision also affirms that the presence of regulatory constraints on the right of substitution does not inherently eliminate the requirement for personal service. This meticulous interpretation of CAWR and AWR harmonizes the intention of statutory protections with the practical realities of varying business models and contractual engagements in the contemporary labor market.

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