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Gym Group may have 'questions to answer' says employment lawyer

Lawyers from 'gig economy' specialists Leigh Day have said that the fitness chain The Gym Group may have legal questions to answer in regard to the contracts they offer personal trainers

Posted on 02 November 2017

Following criticism by MP Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, for "egregious" and "dubious" working practices, lawyers have warned that the fitness company may have questions to answer over the contracts they offer personal trainers.

According to Frank Field MP a whistleblower highlighted the terms of the company's policy when signing up "freelance independent personal trainers".

According to reports the trainers are signed up as "self-employed", however, despite this they must give notice of holidays, wear a uniform at all times, work to specific shift patterns, are restricted with regard to setting prices and must give notice of the termination of the agreement.

Michael Newman from law firm Leigh Day which took Uber to the employment tribunal and is involved in claims being brought against Deliveroo said that the Gym Group may be in breach of the law in how they categorize people who work for them.

Mr Newman from the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “It may be the case that once again we have a company looking to avoid its responsibilities by using bogus “self employment” resulting in the denial of basic employment rights for those workers. “

We have seen such behaviour before and everything which has been reported suggested this could also be the case in regard to how the Gym Group treat people who have to behave as workers but have none or only some of the benefits.”

Mr Field said that the restrictions put on the trainers were "incompatible" with self-employment and that such practices are typically used to put "workers off claiming employment rights and protections they may be due".

He added: "This contract from Gym Group is the latest in a long line of examples highlighting dubious self-employed workforce models - and it is one of the most egregious examples I've seen to date.

"It is packed full of clauses that clearly suggest Gym Group's 'freelance independent personal trainers' are nothing of the sort, but are in fact workers entitled to the rights and protections that come with that status."

The Gym Group had a half-year revenue of GBP42.8 million in half-year revenue and profits of GBP5.9 million in August.

A spokesman for The Gym Group said: "We note the letter from the Rt Hon Frank Field MP. "We take the feedback of our self-employed personal trainers who we partner with extremely seriously and we will be happy to co-operate and respond in full to the issues raised by the requested deadline of 10 November.”