June 18, 2018

Recent Case Paves More Rights for Gig Workers

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

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The Supreme Court dismissed Pimlico Plumber’s appeal recently paving the way for a deluge of claims from “workers” in the gig economy.  The judgment upheld the Employment Tribunal’s and Court of Appeal’s finding that Mr Smith, a plumber, could be classified as a “worker” in employment under the Equality Act.  Workers have less protection than employees but are still given certain rights such as holiday pay and sick pay.

The Supreme Court held that Mr Smith was a “limb worker” because Pimlico Plumbers were clearly not his client and there was an element of control by Pimlico over him in that (amongst other things) they told him to wear a uniform and controlled when and how much he was paid.  This was despite the fact that he had been paying tax as self-employed and was entitled to refuse work offered to him.

It is thought that many gig-economy workers will now bring claims on the back of this.   In reality the case concentrated very much on its facts and simply upheld the view that the Employment Tribunal and Court of Appeal were entitled to make the decision made based on the facts.  It does little to change current case law with regard to worker/employee status. However, workers in the gig economy are likely to be bolstered by this victory.