Supreme Court Dismisses Pimlico Plumbers Appeal

Amanda Deeley
13th Jun 2018

By Amanda Deeley, Solicitor.


The Supreme Court has today (13 June 2018) handed down its judgment in the case of Pimlico Plumbers v Smith.


This was an appeal by Pimlico Plumbers against the Court of Appeal’s decision, which in turn had upheld the findings of the Employment Tribunal, that Mr Smith was a ‘worker’ for Pimlico Plumbers as set out within the definitions in the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Working Time Regulations 1998, and that he was in Pimlico Plumbers’ employment for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.


For Mr Smith to have been regarded as a ‘worker’, he would have required to have undertaken to ‘perform personally’ his work and/or services for Pimlico Plumbers.


The contracts between Pimlico Plumbers and Mr Smith gave Mr Smith no express right to appoint a substitute in the event that he was unable to perform the work or services personally. His only right to substitute was to another Pimlico Plumbers operative.


The Supreme Court decided that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to hold that the dominant feature of Mr Smith’s contracts with Pimlico Plumbers was an obligation of personal performance. His right to substitute was limited to other Pimlico Plumbers operatives, who were bound by similar obligations to Mr Smith. They also decided that it was clear that Pimlico Plumbers were not a client of Mr Smith. There were features of the contracts that indicated that Pimlico Plumbers had tight control over Mr Smith, in that he had to wear their uniform, drive their liveried van (which was fitted with a tracker), carry their identity card, and had strict terms as to payment. The contracts also contained reference to ‘wages’, ‘gross misconduct’, and ‘dismissal’, which are terms inconsistent with an arrangement of self-employment.


In conclusion, the Supreme Court held that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to reach the conclusions it did as to Mr Smith’s status.


If you have any questions about this case or employment status generally, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0141 331 5150.

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