Newsflash: Employment status and the ‘self-employed’ plumber

self employed plumber

What do we already know?

We updated you in our February 2017 Newsletter Employment status & the ‘self-employed’ plumber on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Pimlico Plumbers & Charlie Mullins v Gary Smith.

The Court of Appeal decided that a plumber, Mr Smith, who was self employed for tax purposes, could nevertheless be categorised as a ‘worker’ for employment purposes. This was despite the fact that Mr Smith was labelled as a ‘self-employed operative’ and described in documentation as an independent contractor and in business on his own account.


What’s new?

The Supreme Court has upheld the above Court of Appeal decision that a ‘self-employed’ plumber could be categorised as a ‘worker’ for employment purposes.

In summary, the Supreme Court held that although on the face of the contractual relationship Mr Smith appeared self-employed, the reality of the working relationship was that he was a worker. This decision gives Mr Smith important employment rights.

Central to this finding was the fact that:

  • Mr Smith was required to perform his work personally. His only right of substitution was of another plumber working for Pimlico Plumbers and engaged under the same contract with the same restrictions; and
  • Pimlico Plumbers was not Mr Smith’s client or customer. In fact, Pimlico Plumbers exerted significant control over Mr Smith during the term of the agreement.

As this is an important decision we’ll be sure to update you in further detail in our June Newsletter. So watch this space…


self employed plumber