Golf professional loses tribunal bid
A PROFESSIONAL golfer has been told he is not eligible to bring an unfair dismissal claim against his former Suffolk club.The ruling by an employment tribunal is a blow for Nick McNeil who had argued that the Trustees of Rushmere Golf Club in Ipswich had been his employers.
A PROFESSIONAL golfer has been told he is not eligible to bring an unfair dismissal claim against his former Suffolk club.
The ruling by an employment tribunal is a blow for Nick McNeil who had argued that the Trustees of Rushmere Golf Club in Ipswich had been his employers.
Following a preliminary hearing at Bury St Edmunds in February, the tribunal panel has now unanimously agreed that Mr McNeil had been self employed when his contract with the club was termimated last year.
Mr McNeil, of Sandy Lane, Hoo, had been appointed as Golf Professional in July 1979 with an annual retainer of £2,000 which had risen to £9,500 by last year.
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Tribunal chairman Brian Mitchell said the letter of appointment had referred to Mr McNeil as "Professional at Rushmere Golf Club on a self employed basis".
Mr McNeil had run his own business from the golf shop, employed his own assistant, been registered for VAT which is a status only available for businesses and produced his own accounts for tax purposes.
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During the preliminary hearing, Mr McNeil said he had been told in 2001 that his contract was to be terminated with three months notice for a number of reasons including, it was alleged, having not represented the club at enough competitions.
He told the tribunal that the termination letter had come "out of the blue" and enlisted the support of a significant number of club members which led to the committee agreeing to extend the notice period to six months to allow talks on a possible new contract.
Two drafts were rejected by Mr McNeil but he did sign a contract giving him increased holiday entitlement and an increase in retainer fee but which, said Mr Mitchell, contained a clause asserting that he was still self employed.
Finally in May last year Mr McNeil was told that his contract as club professional was being terminated. At an extraordinary general meeting of members 83 voted for him to be retained while 146 were against.
Mr McNeil's contract with the club terminated at the end of last September. He had argued that he was effectively an employee because he did not work for any other organisation, had shown loyalty over many years and continued to receive his retainer payment while off sick and on holiday.
Announcing the decision of the tribunal that it has no jurisdiction to hear the case, Mr Mitchell said: "The applicant was running his own business from shop premises provided by the respondents.
"The applicant had the potential to make profits from almost everything that he did. He also took the risk of a lack of success".