​The Pimlico Plumbers case – what will this mean to Employment law?

​The Pimlico Plumbers case – what will this mean to Employment law?

In recent years there has been a surge in companies such as Deliveroo and Uber investing into the gig economy, whereby they are hiring workers on a self-employed, job by job basis, and on short-term contracts, as opposed to permanent employment positions.

This has obvious benefits to the companies in that they have a flexible work force that they only need pay when there is work available, and not when there is downturn in the work required.

However, these obvious benefits to the companies come at a huge price to those working under these terms. The workers are left with little to no protection from dismissal, benefits such as holiday and sick pay, and many do not make minimum wage due to the nature of the role that they get paid per job rather than per hour.

However, it is no longer all doom and gloom for the worker after the decision made by the recent decision by the Supreme Court in the Pimlico Plumbers case.

Mr Smith had worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for 6 years and, on suffering from a heart attack, he wished to reduce the 5 days a week that he had worked for Pimlico for the past 6 years down to 3. Pimlico refused his request and took his branded van away from him that he had been hiring throughout his time with Pimlico. Mr Smith claimed that he had been dismissed and that he was entitled to the basic statutory rights of workers and bought a claim for discrimination on the grounds that he did not receive basic minimum wage and holiday pay.

Pimlico argued that Mr Smith was a gig worker and therefore was self-employed on a job to job basis. The Employment Tribunal disagreed with this interpretation of Mr Smith's status and appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Employment Tribunal were entitled to reach the conclusion that Mr Smith, was a worker for the purposes of the relevant legislation. Therefore being entitled to various employment rights that he would not have would they have ruled he was self-employed gig worker. This is despite various factors such as Mr Smith hiring his own van, Mr Smith providing his own tools and the lack of holiday pay etc.

However, it is worth noting that, as above, the Supreme Court decided that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to reach that decision based on the specific facts in this case. The consequence being that, rather than all gig workers being workers for the purpose of the relevant legislation, it will continue to be a case by case specific decision.

This decision has obviously left many gig workers questioning whether they should have more rights than they first thought, and left many businesses querying what they can do to avoid falling into the same traps as Pimlico.

Should you require any advice, whether you are a gig worker or a business that has adopted this structure, we are more than happy to review your position and assist you.

Contact us today to discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our specialist Employment Law solicitors will talk you through your options and advise on the next steps. Call 01603 693500 or email us using 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.