Court of Appeal sides with plumber over basic workers rights

Plumber Gary Smith has won a legal battle against Pimlico Plumbers in the Court of Appeal, over his past employment status with the company.

He carried out plumbing work for Charlie Mullins, the founder of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, between 25 August 2005 and 28 April 2011. He claims that, following a heart attack in January 2011, he was unfairly or wrongfully dismissed on 3 May 2011.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that because Mr Smith worked a minimum of 40 hours a week, had to wear a company uniform, and drive company vehicles that he was a worker. Mr Smith was VAT registered and payed tax as if he was self-employed, but only carried out work on behalf of Pimlico Plumbers for six years.

The Court of Appeal agreed with a tribunal that said he was entitled to basic workers rights which would include the national minimum wage and paid holiday although he was self-employed.

Charlie Mullins said that plumbers were hired on the basis that they were self-employed, provided their own materials, and did not have workers’ benefits, but were paid ‘significantly’ more as a result.

Pimlico Plumbers argued Mr Smith was an independent contractor rather than a worker or employee.