News Updates

Pimlico Plumbers: CA decides plumber is a worker

Thursday 16th February 2017

The CA has upheld the EAT’s decision in Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and anor v Smith that a plumber, although self-employed for tax purposes, satisfied the definition of worker.

Mr Smith was engaged as a plumber by Pimlico from August 2005 until his contract was terminated in May 2011, following a heart attack in January 2011. At the initial ET hearing, it was held that the financial risk involved in the arrangement was incompatible with employee status. However, the ET found that Mr Smith was a worker, enabling him to bring claims for holiday pay and unlawful deductions from wages and that he met the extended definition of employment in the Equality Act 2010, so could bring disability discrimination claims.

The ET held that the main purpose of Pimlico’s agreement with Mr Smith was for him to personally provide services, although Pimlico were not obliged to provide him with work. Mr Smith had to comply with Pimlico’s manual and was required to rent a van from Pimlico. He was essentially prevented from undertaking any other work while working for Pimlico and for three months following termination.

Mr Smith was required to work a minimum number of hours per week and while he did have flexibility regarding which jobs he accepted and when he worked, he was required to agree his hours. He did not have an unfettered right to provide a substitute and was only able to enlist the help of, or trade jobs with, other Pimlico staff.

The EAT upheld the ET’s decision and the primary issue before the CA was whether Mr Smith was carrying on a business on his own account or providing his services personally for an undertaking carried on by Pimlico. The CA held it was the latter, as Mr Smith had no right of substitution or delegation and was obliged to work a minimum number of hours per week. The degree of control exercised by Pimlico was also inconsistent with it being a customer or client of a business run by Mr Smith.

All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.