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Pimlico Plumbers lose in the Supreme Court

July 10, 2018
Employment Law

Hard on the heels of last month’s article on a successful ‘worker’ claim against Addison Lee, we have now received the final judgment of the Supreme Court in the widely reported Pimlico Plumbers case.  This case has received widespread media attention, not least because of the colourful antics of the company’s chief executive, Charlie Mullins.

What did the Supreme Court decide?

Gary Smith, the plumber who brought the claim, was previously engaged as a self-employed contractor.  However, when this arrangement came to an end, he argued that he had in fact been a ‘worker‘ all along and was, therefore, entitled to a minimum level of protection under current employment laws.

The Supreme Court considered the Employment Tribunal’s decision and concluded that the ET had been entitled to find that Mr Smith was required to provide ‘personal service’ under the contractual arrangement between him and the company.  In turn, this essentially created the ‘worker’ relationship Mr Smith was arguing for.

Of particular significance was the fact that although Mr Smith had the right to decline work offered to him, he did not have any significant right to send a substitute in his place.  You may recall from last month’s article that the reason why Deliveroo were able to successfully defend themselves against a similar claim was the fact that their contracts contained a clear and meaningful right to send someone else to deliver the take-away food if they didn’t want to.

What do you think?

Charlie Mullins branded the Supreme Court’s decision as “poor” and said that he was “disgusted” by the approach they had taken.  He also saw it as a missed opportunity to bring our employment laws into the 21st century (his words, not ours!)

If you have any thoughts on this recent run of cases relating to employment and worker status and would like to get them off your chest, we would love to hear from you.

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