Posted 13th June

Pimlico Plumbers loses workers' rights battle

By KBBDaily on 13th June 2018 - 11:09am
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The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a plumber who was dismissed from Pimlico Plumbers in a case that will set a precedent for workers’ rights within the ‘gig economy’.

Gary Smith worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years – from 2005 to 2011 – on a self-employed basis, but claimed he was dismissed by the company following a request to reduce his working days after a heart attack.

An employment tribunal followed and agreed that Smith was entitled to basic workers’ rights, even though he was technically self-employed. However, Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins, pictured, fought the case, saying at the time that plumbers hired on a self-employed basis did not have workers’ benefits but were paid more.

Pimlico Plumbers appealed the tribunal's decision last year, but it was rejected. This new ruling by the Supreme Court means that the original employment tribunal’s findings that Smith was a worker and was therefore entitled to employment rights such as holiday and sick pay – more rights than if he was self-employed on a completely freelance basis – will be upheld.

It also means that Smith’s claims of unfair dismissal as a worker at Pimlico Plumbers can now be heard in a new employment tribunal. Pimlico CEO and founder Mullins has said that the ruling by the Supreme Court will bring a “tsunami of claims” against companies that use self-employed contractors.

“For those who think this is a victory for poorly paid workers everywhere, against large corporations who exploit their lack of bargaining power, think again,” said Mullins. “In fact, this was exploitation, but instead by a highly-paid, highly-skilled man who used a loophole in current employment law to set himself up for a double pay-day.

“This was a poor decision that will potentially leave thousands of companies, employing millions of contractors, wondering if one day soon they will get a nasty surprise from a former contractor demanding more money, despite having been paid in full years ago. It can only lead to a tsunami of claims.”

Mullins added: “I'm supposed to say I'm disappointed with the outcome of the appeal. In reality I am disgusted by the approach taken to this case by the highest court in the United Kingdom.”

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