10 February, 2017
Pimlico Plumbers' latest attempt to establish that their workforce is self-employed has failed.
The London-based firm Pimlico Plumbers provides domestic maintenance requirements for both individual homes and businesses. Charlie Mullins, the founder, employs a workforce of over 270 skilled tradesmen which includes Gary Smith, one of the firm's plumbers for the past six years.
Gary has recently received the decision from the Court of Appeal branding him and the other self-employed plumbers as workers and not self-employed contractors. Gary suffered a heart attack in 2010 and wished to reduce his working days from five down to three. The firm refused this variation and took away Gary's branded van which he had hired. Gary claimed he was dismissed as a result.
This ruling means that despite Gary being VAT registered and paying tax on a self-employed basis, as a worker he is entitled to more rights. Such rights include national minimum wage, the ability to bring a discrimination claim and paid holidays.
The Court of Appeal's decision highlights the difficulties which businesses face wanting self-employed contractors to appear part of the business in the eyes of a client, yet ensuring they do not obtain any legal employment rights by being classed as anything other. This case emphasises the importance of understanding that a contract does not always define the status of an individual within a work force or guarantee that an individual's role could not be perceived as something else.
Workers that have not been afforded all their rights can make claims for backdated entitlements. Businesses are recommended to have their working arrangements reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they do not fall into the same difficulties as Pimlico Plumbers.