Plumber Wins Court of Appeal Fight on Employment Status

Pimlico Plumbers v Gary Smith [2017] EWCA Civ 51

The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by Pimlico Plumbers concerning the employment status of a former worker.

Gary Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years until 2011. His contract was terminated when he asked to reduce his hours following a heart attack. Mr Smith took his case to the Employment Tribunal, which found he was a 'worker' and so was entitled to employment rights. Both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal rejected Pimlico Plumbers' appeal. In upholding the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decisions, the Master of the Rolls said:

"This case puts a spotlight on a business model under which operatives are intended to appear to clients of the business as working for the business, but at the same time the business itself seeks to maintain that… there is a legal relationship of … independent contractor rather than employer and employee or worker."

The Court of Appeal's decision is expected to affect other workers in the so-called 'gig economy', such as delivery drivers.

David Stephenson acted for Mr Smith throughout his protracted legal battle.

A copy of this important judgment can be found on the judiciary website.

The case was reported by the BBC, ITV, Sky News and the Daily Mail, amongst others.