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Are the employment status and rights set to change for livery yards?

Lodders’ solicitor, Jennifer Linford, believes the landmark principles on employment status, following the recent string of ‘gig economy’ legal cases, have signalled the end of livery yards and stables engaging a groom to work in exchange for a ‘free’ lesson or ‘for the joy of it’. Here she explains why.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) National Equestrian Survey indicated that six percent of Great Britain’s population have ridden a horse at least once in the past 12 months. Horse riding is growing in popularity, is estimated to contribute £7bn to the UK economy each year, and provides full-time employment to approximately 200,000 people.

It is common practice for horse owners to entrust the care of their horses to a livery yard.

A motivating factor for people who have invested time and money in setting up and running a livery business is that they will potentially have more of an opportunity to pursue their hobby and spend time with horses.

However, it is crucial they remember they are running a business and there are important legal requirements that must be complied with.

Employment status

A key one is determining the correct employment status of the people they engage as a groom or stable hand, because there could be profound legal and financial consequences of mislabelling or not naming at all, the role of a groom who is helping out on the yard by mucking out stables or grooming horses.

The gig economy has received unprecedented media attention over the past 12 months. Most of the cases have involved companies outside of the equine and countryside sectors, such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Pimlico, but the landmark principles on employment status which stem from these cases have far-reaching and an unavoidable effect that is likely to have a direct impact on livery businesses that frequently depend on unofficial ‘help’ around the yard.

Combine this with a memorandum of agreement between the National Trainers Federation and the National Association of Stable Staff that became effective on 10 December 2018, and stipulates the rate of pay and standards and conditions of stable staff employed within the racing industry, and the rules governing how livery yards employ workers has definitely changed.


What, is meant by the term ‘Worker’ and what basic employment rights are they entitled to?

A worker is someone employed on a casual basis and is entitled to the following (not exhaustive):

–          National Minimum Wage;

–          Paid annual leave

–          Right to pension contributions under the auto-enrolment scheme;

–          Rest breaks; and

–          Protection from discrimination.

What is meant by the term ‘employee’ and what basic employment rights are they entitled to?

An employee is defined as “an individual who has entered into or works under (or, where the employment has ceased, worked under) a Contract of Employment.

An employee is entitled to the following (in addition to the rights afforded to workers, as above (not exhaustive)):

–          Written particulars of employment;

–          Statutory sick pay;

–          Statutory maternity and/or paternity pay etc;

–          Protection on the transfer of undertakings; and

–          Right to not suffer detriment for exercising rights in respect of health and safety cases.


Having a legally compliant framework for staff are employed and what title they have will help to ensure livery businesses are operating within the law. It will also provide certainty and predictability in the event that a legal issue arises, as well as help to ward off any issues from arising in the first place.

Having the employment status and rights of an individual stipulated within a well drafted, concise and clear contract of employment, will help to ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities and rights.

For more information:

Jennifer Linford is an Assistant Solicitor in Lodders Dispute Resolution team and supports the firm’s specialist Employment Law team in contentious and non-contentious employment law matters.

For help or advice on any employment law related matter, please contact Nick Rowe, Jennifer Linford, or head of Lodders’ Dispute Resolution practice Jane Senior.

The Equestrian Employers Association is the professional organisation for all employers in the equestrian industry and offers useful guidance and information for anyone who employs equestrian staff or manages a yard and runs a business in the equestrian industry. See:  


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For help or advice on any employment law related matter, please contact Nick Rowe, Jennifer Linford, or head of Lodders’ Dispute Resolution practice Jane Senior.