Pimlico plumbers lose (again) but who are the real winners and losers?
14 June 2018
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14 June 2018
It comes as no surprise and the result has been long predicted by EEBS that Gary Smith has finally had his employment tribunal decision upheld by the Supreme Court, which found he was engaged by Pimlico plumbers as a worker, rather than a fully self-employed individual.
The Supreme Court decided to dismiss Pimlico’s appeal, ruling that the tribunal was entitled to conclude that Mr Smith was a worker and he could, therefore, proceed with his tribunal claim. Throughout the case, one key indicator of employment status has been in dispute. Was Mr Smith required to personally perform work for Pimlico? The court found that he had no express right to appoint a substitute and that swapping shifts between Pimlico operatives within the workforce was a means of work distribution and did not invalidate Mr Smith’s obligation to personally perform services.
Other contributing factors were that Mr Smith wore a Pimlico uniform, drove a Pimlico van, carried an identity card and followed instructions from the company’s control room. His contract included references to wages, gross misconduct, and dismissal, terms that would only expect to be found in an employment contract.
The court ruled that although there were some factors which lent towards Mr Smith being genuinely self-employed, the above indicators outweighed these.
What impact will the result of this case have? Well, Gary Smith will finally receive the pay out awarded to him from the court. Similarly, Charlie Mullins, owner of Pimlico, looks highly likely to be laughing all the way to the bank!
Charlie may well have paid out a few quid in legal costs for this case, but the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity has never seemed more appropriate. During the court hearing, turnover at Pimlico is up by 20% and Mr Mullins is forecasting £100m of turnover a year within the next five years!
In spite of what you might read in the press, this result will actually have very little Impact on the wider range of employment rights issues that regularly dominate the headlines, think Deliveroo, Uber etc. As we highlighted in our previous article (if it walks like a duck…) – if your contract is fundamentally flawed, no matter what label you give it, it is highly likely to fail when tested in court.
So what could Charlie but more importantly, your business do to avoid all this nasty publicity and court case in the first place?
Well, taking our sound professional advice and getting EEBS to write a contract that clearly and definitively establishes the difference between an employment contract and a self-employed engagement is your best starting point.
EEBS will provide you with a bespoke solution built on 17 years of experience. EEBS have guided dozens of clients through HMRC inspections with 100% pass rate. EEBS works in conjunction with the UK’s leading experts in construction taxation issues to write their contracts ensuring they are watertight and would stand up to inspection.
Contact EEBS for free compliance health check today.
01245 493832 or firstname.lastname@example.org