The Supreme Court has recently held that a Plumber, who actually worked under a contract describing him as an “Independent Contractor” was, in fact, a worker and therefore was entitled to certain rights as if he was on the staff. This could have major implications for many businesses.

In this case, the Court examined the facts and discovered that the Plumber was in fact required to complete a minimum of 40 hours work per week and he had to hire and drive a branded van and wear the company’s uniform. There was no express right for the Plumber to send anyone else in his place and following a bout of illness, Pimlico Plumbers terminated the Plumbers contract and he brought claims in an Employment Tribunal for the company’s failure to pay holiday pay, unlawful deductions from wages and disability discrimination. Obviously, the Plumber would not have been entitled to any of those claims had he been truly self-employed.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed Pimlico Plumbers subsequent appeals leaving the Supreme Court to finally decide the matter. The Supreme Court has now upheld the original Employment Tribunal’s decision. A number of key factors influenced the Court. Firstly, the Plumber was required to provide a personal service and he was clearly not in business on his own account. He was an integral part of Pimlico Plumbers operations and as such was subordinate to it.

Secondly, the Plumbers contract also apparently referred to “wages”, “gross misconduct” and “dismissal” and also contained a range of “restrictive covenants” which are all terms normally seen in Employment Contracts and all of which ultimately led to the Plumber being able to establish his case that he was in fact a “worker”.

This now brings to an end the first in a series of cases of this sort and this will now have wide spread implications upon all business models that are following the Pimlico Plumbers structure and care must be taken when drafting contracts of this nature.

For further information, please contact Mark Edmondson on 01638 560556 or mae@edmondsonhall.com.