Copyright Moore Barlow LLP (Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins merged May 2020)

Pimlico Plumbers lose in Supreme Court

Self-employed plumber Gary Smith has won his case against his former employer, Pimlico Plumbers. The case concerned whether Gary was entitled to working rights.

Gary Smith, who was employed as a contractor, argued that he was entitled to certain working rights when he was dismissed after six years with the company. Pimlico Plumbers argued he was not classified as an employee or worker. The Supreme Court found that although Smith had not been an employee under a contract of employment, he should be classified as a ‘worker’ under the Employment Rights Act.

The main conclusions drew upon the fact that Mr Smith had undertaken to personally perform work for Pimlico Plumbers and there was a relationship of subordination.

Legal comment

The judgment adds very little to the existing case law on the meaning of ‘worker’. The outcome was based very much on the facts of the case.

The ruling should, however, encourage employers who employ contractors to reassess their agreements and evaluate whether on the reality of the relationship, the contractor will be considered a worker. Issues to consider could include specified hours, billing managed by the company, obligatory corporate clothing and equipment and non-compete clauses.


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