Self Employed Plumber Wins Workers Status

Gary Smith had worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years as a self employed plumber. He was VAT registered and paying tax on a self employed basis. After suffering a heart attack in 2010, he requested to cut back his working hours to three days a week, but the Company refused his request.

Pimlico Plumbers argued that their plumbers were hired as ‘independent contractors’ as opposed to workers or employees – and that although they provided their own materials and did not have workers’ benefits, they were paid significantly more than PAYE employees.

In this latest significant ruling, the Court of Appeal agreed with the employment tribunal that Mr Smith was a worker and entitled to basic workers’ rights (including the right to the national minimum wage, paid holiday and the ability to bring discrimination claims), even though he was technically self employed.

The ruling follows a number of similar employee rights disputes including tribunals against a bike courier firm CitySprint and taxi service app Uber, that have been found in the workers’ favour.

Companies that rely on self employed contractors should now be proactive in clarifying the employment status of individuals who work for them. The risk is that misclassifying a worker as a self employed contractor may result in large financial exposure to unpaid holiday, pensions and other entitlements.

If you would like guidance or advice on this matter, please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email