Last week Jess Varnish, ex British cycling great put to the test her employment status in a claim against UK Sport and British Cycling. You can read the BBC report here.
It is another interesting case about employment status on the back of the successful cases involving Uber, Deliveroo and others where at least worker status was attributed to the drivers, allowing them to successfully make a claim for employment rights such as back holiday pay.
In this case, UK Sport successfully argued that they are simply a grant awarding body, similar to a University grant, and have no legal employment responsibility towards the athletes.
Whilst Jess Varnish did not succeed, she might appeal. Her case highlights the importance of a duty of care and protecting against bad behaviour so I do hope it has at least shone a spotlight on gender issues in sport.
Some of Jess’s allegations involved serious comments made to her when she was dropped from the team at the 2016 Rio Olympic games and told to “go and have a baby”. The win at all costs mentality in professional sport can be brutal and I hope the case highlights the need for some better pastoral care for those involved in sport at a serious level such as this.