Landmark ruling on workers’ rights
Image credit: Plumber, Amsterdam, November 5, 1951; Photo Ben van Meerendonk / AHF, IISH Collection, Amsterdam
Plumber Gary Smith recently made national news when he won a landmark legal case for workers’ rights.
Under Section 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Smith, despite being VAT-registered and paying self-employed tax, was entitled to workers’ rights in Pimlico Plumbers v Gary Smith.
An employment tribunal held in 2011 found that Mr Smith, who had worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years, was not an employee, but was a ‘worker’ and ‘in employment’ within the meaning of the Equality Act. This finding was upheld by the EAT and the Court of Appeal.
For Mr Smith to qualify as a worker, the Supreme Court had to agree that he had undertaken work for Pimlico Plumbers and the company was neither his client nor his customer.
Accordingly, the employment tribunal was entitled to conclude that Mr Smith was a ‘worker’ and would be entitled to employment rights, such as holiday and sick pay.
The case is expected to have huge ramifications for freelance workers, many of whom work for firms in the so-called gig economy.