Gig Economy


The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from Pimlico Plumbers in another gig economy case, this time where the plumber’s status was judged to be worker and not contractor.

Gary Smith worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers between 2005 and 2011; he was obliged to work a minimum of 40 hours a week; wear a uniform and drive a Pimlico van.

He was also not able to choose the work he carried out or to send someone else in his place if he was on holiday or ill.

All of these elements worked together to fetter the argument that he was a contractor working for himself.

The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s earlier decision adding to the various cases decided recently including Uber and Adison Lee.

In all of these cases, the companies involved claimed that the people working for them were independent contractors, meaning they weren’t entitled to the same rights of a worker or employee, such as the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

However, the courts found that the companies did control these people to such a degree that they were not free to work as they chose and should, therefore, have been regarded as workers.

There’s a strong message here to all employers who must be mindful when entering into an agreement with a ‘contractor’. Are they really a worker in disguise?

Do they have to follow your rules such as pricing? Do they have to work for you exclusively?
Do they have to wear your uniform? Have they had several ‘assignments’ from you in a row without a break?

Recent gig economy cases demonstrate the importance of establishing the true status of the people working for you to avoid falling foul of the law and failing to meet your responsibilities in relation to those working for you, with you or on your behalf.

If you are unsure whether your contractor is actually a worker or if you need advice on any employment law issue, contact or phone 01782 205000.