Pimlico Plumbers verdict: “This is a landmark result that is important for workers everywhere and should send a resounding signal to those firms that engage self-employed people to check their contractual arrangements and working practices. Contributor Julia Kermode is chief executive of The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA).
Employment status is complex, and this case illustrates the need to retain three tiers of employment status as Gary Smith was neither employed nor self-employed. He 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 ask permission to take time off. He was clearly a worker, and not self-employed, despite the intention of Pimlico Plumbers.
“The government is once again consulting on employment status, however, I would fire a cautionary note that care must be taken to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from any decisions made which might penalise those people who are genuinely self-employed. Self-employed workers do not need an extra layer of red tape or any more legislation imposed on them that will serve to hamper them. They are driving the UK economy right now so let’s support them not punish them. Conversely a worker, like Gary Smith, should not be exploited and should be entitled to certain rights and benefits. This case is set to change the employment landscape forever.”
Dave Chaplin is CEO and founder of contracting authority Contractor Calculator, which provides free expert advice and information to freelancers and contractors. Commenting on today’s case he said: “Today’s ruling is a victory for Good Work, and is a landmark decision taken by The Supreme Court and should hopefully set considerable precedence. The extra cost of paying these rights to workers will be passed onto the client, but that’s something I support, because people should have Good Work and not be exploited. Pimlico plumbers hired “self-employed” people and put them in branded vehicles, branded clothing, and has expected them to adhere to policies and processes for their company. They should be entitled to their rights, regardless of how much they earned. Hopefully we will see a wave of other firms complying with their statutory obligations as a result of today’s decision.”