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Plumber's workers - rights battle implications

Plumber’s workers’ rights battle could have implications for other employers

The Court of Appeal has today agreed with an earlier tribunal decision and ruled that a plumber was entitled to basic workers’ rights despite being self-employed. The case has focused on whether the Plumber, Mr Smith was either a self-employed contractor or a worker for the company.

Mr Smith was VAT registered and paying tax on a self-employed basis, but worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years. After suffering a heart attack in 2010, Mr Smith asked to reduce his work from five days a week to three. The firm refused and took away his branded van which he had hired from then and he claimed he was dismissed.

Mr Smith argued he was entitled to basic workers’ rights including the national minimum wage, paid holiday and the ability to bring discrimination claims.

It is not yet clear if the case will be taken to the Supreme Court but it does throw a spotlight on the wider issue of workers’ rights in the so called gig economy. The Government has already commissioned a review of this area, looking at questions of job security, pension, holiday and parental leave rights and employer freedoms and obligations.

Amanda Finn, Partner at Gullands Solicitors comments: “Whilst one of the Judges in this case has warned employment lawyers should not to draw conclusions from the decision, it is something which all businesses should be aware of and should consider whether they have any similar arrangements which could put them at risk of a similar action. We are very happy to review employment contracts which you have in place for staff as well as the working arrangements with people you consider to be self-employed, to see if there could be any risk associated with the type of relationship in the future.”

Amanda Finn can be contacted at