Since the recent high profile case of Uber, where drivers have been deemed workers and not self-employed, the Court of Appeal has considered the employment status of a plumber from Kent.
The plumber was looking to reduce his working hours after suffering a heart attack and claimed that he was unfairly dismissed and claimed entitlement to pay during medical suspension. He exercised discretion on which jobs to take and negotiated a price with customers himself. The plumber argued that he was a worker and entitled to basic workers’ rights. Pimlico argued that the plumber was an independent contractor and therefore, not entitled to basic employment rights.
The case went all the way to the Court of Appeal where they ruled that the plumber was, in fact, a worker. This was on the basis that he was obliged to work a 40 hour week, had to use a van with the company’s logo and that even though he was not under an obligation to accept all work, he could not refuse all assignments among other factors. This was despite the fact that he was VAT registered, hired his van from Pimlico and was paying tax on a self-employed basis. In reality, the plumber had worked solely for Pimlico for 6 years.
This case provides yet another warning to employers to ensure that employment status is always considered carefully.