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Pimlico Plumbers' worker's ruling has employee rights implications

10 February 2017

A ruling by the Court of Appeal has supported the claims for a self-employed employee to be entitled to basic workers' rights.

It involves the case of Gary Smith, who previously worked as a plumber for Pimlico Plumbers on a self-employed basis.

Although VAT-registered and paying tax on a self-employed basis he worked exclusively for the company for six years, according to BBC News.

After suffering a heart attack, Mr Smith asked to reduce his working week from five days to three, but Pimlico Plumbers rejected this and took back the liveried van he had rented from the business.

Mr Smith claimed he was entitled to basic workers' rights, including bringing discrimination claims and receiving the national minimum wage and paid annual leave.

Following a previous ruling by an employment tribunal, which found the company's plumbers were workers but not employees, the Court of Appeal supported the decision and dismissed the Pimlico Plumbers' appeal.

Company founder Charlie Mullins said plumbers were hired on a self-employed basis, providing their own tools and materials.

Although they did not have workers' rights, he said they were paid significantly more, according to BBC News, and Mr Mullins claimed Mr Smith was paid £80,000.

Mr Smith's solicitor Jacqueline McGuigan described the decision as a "resounding victory", as he had been unable to work for other companies due to being "tightly controlled".

Ms McGuigan further stated that the case had clarified the situation regarding different work models, with the potential to have a wider impact on similar cases.

However, the BBC further reported that the Court of Appeal judges advised caution before deciding if the case had implications for clarifying the position of casual working arrangements.

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