Last week saw the Pimlico Plumbers employment status case finally conclude with the Supreme Court deciding that a heating engineer was a worker and not self-employed.
The claim was brought about by Gary Smith who worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years until 2011 when he suffered a heart attack. Pimlico Plumbers argued that Mr Smith was self-employed (and therefore not entitled to any employment rights or protections), but they lost every stage of the legal dispute.
Gary Smith was required to work at least 40 hours per week, was required to wear a Pimlico Plumbers uniform and drive a branded van. He also had to seek permission to take time off and was restricted in his ability to compete for other plumbing work. He was clearly a worker and not self-employed despite the intention of Pimlico Plumbers.
This high-profile case is likely to influence the government’s current consultation on employment status, and care must be taken to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from any decisions which might penalise those who are genuinely self-employed. Notwithstanding a worker, like Gary Smith, should not be exploited and should be entitled to certain rights and benefits. FCSA has long-campaigned for a crackdown on false self-employment and we will continue lobbying for action to be taken.