Pimlico Plumbers case to be heard before Supreme Court


The Supreme Court has granted Pimlico Plumbers the right to appeal a judgment that one of its self-employed contractors was in fact an employee.

Plumber Gary Smith, who worked for the firm for six years until 2011, had won an employment tribunal challenging the firm’s view that he was self-employed.

Mr Smith was VAT-registered and paying tax on a self-employed basis, and also provided his own equipment, accepted personal liability for work and provided his own insurance cover.

However, the Tribunal ruled on the basis that Mr Smith’s work and behaviour was governed by strict rules, similar to those observed in employment. For example, he had to wear branded uniform and hire a branded van, and was expected to work five days a week with a minimum of 40 hours. The company also refused to cut his work week from five to three days after suffering from a heart attack.

Pimlico argued that Mr Smith was an “independent contractor” and lodged an appeal, which was rejected.

However, the firm’s chief executive, Charlie Mullins, has now won the right to have the case heard before the Supreme Court.

“It’s wonderful that we have been granted permission to appeal our long-running and potentially ground breaking employment case to the Supreme Court,” Mr Mullins said.

“I have always maintained that Mr Smith was a self-employed contractor, and to my mind the evidence overwhelmingly supports our position.”

He added: “Let me be crystal clear, I completely condemn disreputable companies which are using fake self-employment to swindle workers out of pay and conditions; however at Pimlico Plumbers we are not doing that.

“It is my determined aim to convince the Supreme Court that by using self-employed status, Pimlico Plumbers is doing nothing wrong, and what’s more is both morally and legally in the right.”

The original Tribunal decision sent shockwaves through the gig economy. Roughly 1.3 million people work in self-employed contractor roles in the UK, most of whom do not receive worker’s rights, such as holiday and sickness pay.

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP solicitors is a City law firm which provides legal services with a personal touch covering the full range of litigation issues, including employment disputes. For more information about our services, please contact Andrew Firman or telephone: 020 7406 1000.

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Carter Lemon Camerons LLP (CLC) solicitors is a City law firm which provides legal services with a personal touch to both commercial and private clients. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters. For more information about CLC please visit: www.cartercamerons.com or telephone: 020 7406 1000

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