‘Landmark’ decision in Supreme Court worker status case
The Supreme Court has upheld a ‘landmark’ decision that a plumber who was treated as ‘self-employed’ by Pimlico Plumbers for several years was actually a ‘worker’ and should have been entitled to basic employment rights.
It is thought that the decision, which was handed down by the UK’s highest Court earlier this week, will have far-reaching implications for other gig economy workers who wish to challenge their worker status, potentially leading to a “tsunami of claims.”
Mr Gary Smith, who worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years, appeared at the Supreme Court on Wednesday 13 June.
Examining the evidence, which indicated that Mr Smith was VAT-registered and paying self-employed tax, but that the company exercised “tight administrative control over him,” the Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling indicating that the plumber was a worker and in fact not self-employed.
In its decision, it noted that Pimlico Plumbers required Mr Smith to wear a company-branded uniform and to lease one of its vans. It also noted that “the dominant feature of Mr Smith’s contract was that he must do the work himself.”
In opposition, Pimlico Plumbers Chief Executive Charlie Mullins argued that Mr Smith had a number of freedoms, including the option to nominate another person to carry out his work if he so wished.
However, these claims were dismissed, with the Court finding that a previous Employment Tribunal was “entitled to conclude” that Mr Smith should be treated as a worker and should be entitled to the likes of holiday and sick pay.
The Independent has noted that the case has the potential to impact the rights of many other people working in the gig economy who are currently classed as self-employed.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has described the ruling as “one of the biggest ever made by the Courts on workers’ rights.”
Nevertheless, its wider impact remains yet to be seen.