Football refs show HMRC the red card over employment status dispute

Sep 10, 2018

In a recent First Tier Tribunal case, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (“PGMOL”) the body that represents football referees in England, successfully argued that most referees should be considered self-employed and entitled to pay a lower rate of national insurance.

The First tier Tribunal held that football referees engaged by PGMOL were not employees, despite the existence of contracts of engagement.  The wider terms of that engagement did not meet the conditions for the engagement to be employment. 

Some of the main factors leading to that conclusion were that there was no obligation on the referee to accept a particular assignment (though they invariably did) and once refereeing a match, PGMOL did not have the power to control or remove the referee during the match.

The case comes at a time of other high profile employment status disputes and the ongoing review by the Government of employment status in modern times.

The decision in may have ramifications for “workers” in other service industry fields including the media, medicine and professional services.