Matthew Smith: What does the Pimlico Plumbers case mean for employers?

Posted by Matthew Smith on

This article first appeared in Employee Benefits on 3 July here.

After almost seven years of litigation, the Supreme Court has upheld the decisions of the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal that Gary Smith was a ‘worker’ and not ‘self-employed’ in the high-profile case Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith.

The Supreme Court found that the ‘dominant feature’ of Smith’s contracts was an obligation of personal performance. Although there was a limited right of substitution, which is the right to ask someone else to do the job, the substitute also had to be from Pimlico Plumbers. Further, Pimlico Plumbers was not Smith’s client or customer. He wore the branded uniform, drove the branded van and was subject to restrictive covenants. There were strict conditions about when and how much he was paid, and the contractual documents contained references to ‘wages‘, ‘gross misconduct’ and ‘dismissal’.

The Supreme Court decision may encourage other individuals to commence proceedings, especially now Employment Tribunal fees have been abolished, to determine their employment status and to establish what employment rights, if any, they have. The decision may also have significant cost implications for organisations in a number of sectors where people have been treated as self-employed contractors rather than workers.

Read the full article here.

About the Author

Matthew heads the firm's Education Sector and also has extensive experience of both contentious and non-contentious employment work, in particular Employment Tribunal cases.

Matthew Smith
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