Paul Eddery told an employment tribunal in Reading he worked "24/7" at Pat's Musk Hill stables in Berkshire from October 2008 until November 2009, after Pat's daughter -- his niece -- Natasha reported her father was struggling to cope after the collapse of his 25-year marriage to her mother Carolyn.
Because his brother was "in distress and need", Paul agreed to help Pat manage the stables as "a man doing a family favour".
Paul's employment was not formalised until June 2009. Five months later he was fired because of a deterioration in his relationship with Pat over what he said were "personal reasons".
After listening to Paul's account, Judge Robin Lewis said he had to dismiss the case since he had not been formally employed for a minimum period of 12 months, which is required in order to lodge a claim for unfair dismissal.
He told the claimant: "I cannot allow this case to go any further. The evidence that you have given is that you gave your brother, at a time of crisis, support. Although I fully accept this is true, it is not evidence of an employment relationship."
What is unfair dismissal?
In the UK, dismissal can be unfair for a variety of reasons, including: dismissal for asserting a statutory employment right; unfair selection for redundancy; dismissal in violation of pregnancy / maternity rights; dismissal following a failure to comply with statutory disciplinary or grievance procedures; dismissal following a failure to comply with the employer's standard dismissal process; and unfair dismissal related to working patterns and time.
Under the Employment Rights Act, only employees who have a year's continuity of service at the date of dismissal, or have been dismissed without notice and are within a week of gaining a year's continuity of service, can claim unfair dismissal. Employees must also comply with strict time limits to make a claim.
If you need legal advice on unfair dismissal, regardless of where you're located - be it in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, or elsewhere - you should speak to a local solicitor who specialises in employment law.