Last Tuesday, Pimlico Plumbers were granted permission to appeal their long and potentially revolutionary case to the Supreme Court.
The case of Pimlico Plumbers is the latest in a series of employment decisions that address the issue – when is a self-employed individual actually viewed as a worker/employee, which in turn grants them all the employment rights that come with worker status?
In February 2017, the case of Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another v Smith saw the Court of Appeal rule that a plumber was in fact a worker under statutory provisions, entitling him to workers’ rights.
Mr Smith had the obligation under an employment contract to wear a Pimlico uniform, drive a van that was leased and fitted with a GPS tracker by Pimlico and work a minimum number of hours each week.
Despite this, Mr Smith was allowed to pick the jobs that he worked on, had to provide his own work tools and equipment and paid all his own tax and national insurance.
The claimant brought his complaint in front of the Employment Tribunal on the grounds that he was a “worker”.
When the case was heard in the Court of Appeal, the judge recognized that Mr Smith was a worker, which in turn should have entitled him to employment rights, such as, the right to national minimum wage and paid annual leave.
Last week, Mishcon de Reya, who is the law firm representing Pimlico Plumbers reported that they had been granted permission to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The decision that has yet to be heard in this case will be the highest case authority in employment in the UK for “gig-economy” workers.
Mischon de Reya stated: “In arriving at a judgment in this case, the Supreme Court will have to wrestle with important but difficult public policy questions about the type of worker that UK employment law is supposed to protect, and the impact such protections have on UK businesses.
“The law on employment status has been somewhat confused for some time now. Working arrangements are increasingly breaking free of the traditional employer-employee relationship, largely as a result of advances in technology.
“When faced with such atypical working arrangements, the courts and tribunals have increasingly resorted to finding ‘worker’ status.
“It is hoped that the Supreme Court will offer clear guidance and go some way to clarifying the law in this area.”
In response to the news, Charlie Mullins who is the Managing Director of Pimlico Plumbers said: “Today I received the most wonderful news that my company, Pimlico Plumbers, has been granted permission to appeal our long-running and potentially ground-breaking employment case to the Supreme Court.”
“The Supreme Court’s remit is to “hear appeals on arguable points of law of the greatest public importance“, and I am in no doubt that Pimlico’s case falls squarely into this category. Its ramifications will impact upon many thousands of companies in the building industry and beyond, and potentially affect the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of UK workers. I am needless to say incredibly grateful that the Supreme Court has agreed to look again at this case.”
“Let me be crystal clear, I completely condemn disreputable companies who are using fake self-employment to swindle workers out of pay and conditions, however, at Pimlico Plumbers we are not doing that. So, it is my determined aim to convince the Supreme Court that by using self-employed status Pimlico Plumbers are doing nothing wrong, and what’s more are both morally and legally in the right.”
At present, there has been no date set for the trial. However, at Employment Law Services (ELS) we will keep you informed of updates as they come in.
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