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Employment world awaits Pimlico Plumbers ruling

View profile for Sally Morris
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Later today, the Supreme Court will rule on a case that will have “significant ramifications” on employment law across every industry.

Pimlico Plumbers, the gig economy firm, is appealing the case of Gary Smith, a self-employed contractor who fell ill while working for the firm in 2010.

The Supreme Court will hear how Pimlico Plumbers took away Mr Smith’s branded van after the contractor requested part time work as a result of a heart attack.

Mr Smith claims he was dismissed, a claim Pimlico has frequently denied.

The case, which has been running for more than six years, was heard by the Court of Appeal last February. Mr Smith has won a series of lesser court rulings that determined he could claim “worker” status, despite what his contract stated.

This was because the court concluded that he was required to use the firm’s van for assignments and was contractually obliged to work a minimum number of hours per week.

As a result of this ruling, Mr Smith was entitled to bring legal claims against Pimlico Plumbers relating to holiday pay, disability discrimination and unauthorised wage deduction.

It will be the first time that the Supreme Court has considered workers’ rights in the so-called ‘gig economy’, so its ruling could have ramifications for other high-profile cases involving Uber that are coming through the courts at the moment.

Pimlico Plumbers’ chief executive, Mr Mullins said: “In isolation, the case we are fighting tomorrow started six years ago when a self-employed plumber, Gary Smith, who did work for Pimlico Plumbers decided that despite the fact that he had always known he was a self-employed contractor, decided that he would demand employment rights that only employees, not contractors, are entitled to.

“And now all these years later we find ourselves still fighting to prove that a man who took every advantage of being a self-employed plumber when it suited him is indeed a contractor.”