The Court of Appeal recently ruled against Pimlico Plumbers in the latest case on the exact nature of self-employed work. Self-employment has been on the rise in recent years due to changing societal and technological trends, and also as a result of the global financial crises and the resulting recession which lead to more flexible workplace approaches. Many companies have responded by hiring (if that is the correct term) more contractors who on the face of it are self-employed but are not truly in business for themselves because they are under some degree of control.
Pimlico Plumbers has 270 people working for them under such arrangements. One of them was Gary who paid his taxes as all self-employed people do under the self-assessment regime and was individually registered for VAT. This on the face of it makes him self-employed.
In 2010 he suffered a heart attack and he took the understandable decision to reduce his working days to 3 days a week from 5 days a week. Pimlico Plumbers did not allow this: they took away his branded van which he rented from the company. An Employment Tribunal claim was lodged in which Gary claimed this amounted to unfair dismissal.
The complication is that as covered in a previous article about the Uber case which you can read here (to add link) the law recognises three classes; employees, workers, and the self-employed. Workers and employees have employment rights, self-employed persons do not.
The Court of Appeal in this latest case ruled that Gary was a worker and as such he had the legal right to bring an unfair dismissal claim.
This latest case goes to show once more that a person’s status is a question of fact and not of what the contractual relationship between the parties is. So if you are a company and you “hire” self-employed persons, partly because it is easier or more convenient to do so then to hire employees, I strongly advise you to seek legal advice and to review these relationships.
Written by Bruno Rodrigues. If this article interested you and you wish to discuss it or any other legal issue, then please do not hesit