Pimlico Plimbers Ltd v Gary Smith

A plumber (Gary Smith) has won a legal battle against Pimlico Plumbers for working rights in a Supreme Court ruling expected to have huge ramifications for freelance workers.

Pimlico PlumbersWe’ve written about this case several times in the last year or two (the last time being on 29 November), as it has worked its way through the tribunal courts and now we have the Supreme Court (the final) ruling.

This is a landmark case and will potentially have implications for many firms who operate on a similar model to Pimlico Plumbers.

That is:

  • making regular use of contractors over a lengthy period of time; where
  • there is a degree of control over what the contractor does including how, where and when.

What it means is that such contractors may be afforded the basic employment rights of a WORKER (but not the full rights of an EMPLOYEE) such as holiday and sick pay. This obviously has significant cost implications for employers in this situation and the wider gig economy.

Although this case has been much publicised, we have been advising clients for years that they need to be cautious about how they utilise the services of contractors. This case hasn’t arisen from any new legislation or changes in rules, it is a finding based on existing law.

Of course we still await more news on the gig economy cases such as Uber. This supreme court ruling may be referred to but each case is assessed on the specific circumstances relating to it. To date the courts have also found that those gig economy contractors should be classified as workers.

The concern for employers is that such highly publicised cases may open the floodgates for new claims.

I have contractors, what should should I do?

If you have contractors, do any or most of these apply? Does the contractor:

  • work for you every day;
  • have no other clients;
  • relationship date back over a long period of time;
  • work at times and locations you specify;
  • use your equipment you provide; and
  • work on tasks allocated by you and is supervised by you.

Our advice is to call us (there’s no up front obligation) and we can work with you to assess the risks. If you do anything to treat your contractors as if they were employees (pay them when they are on holiday or off sick for example) then make assessing those risks a top priority!

The full Supreme Court judgement is available to read.

Are you concerned about this Pimlico Plumbers decision? Contact us.

Speak to Sam Swinstead on 0845 463 9365 or email Sam here

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