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SUPREME COURT judges struck a blow against bogus self-employment today, upholding a ruling that a Pimlico Plumbers engineer was a worker and not a contractor.
Gary Smith, who worked for Pimlico from 2005 to 2011, had pursued his unfair dismissal case through the courts, with company bosses claiming at every turn that he was self-employed.
Mr Smith was dismissed in 2011 after suffering a heart attack and asking if his hours could be reduced. He was one of 125 plumbers employed by the company and had a company uniform and van.
His dismissal claim was upheld by an employment tribunal and the Court of Appeal in January 2017, ruling that he was a “worker” within the meaning of the 1996 Employment Rights Act.
The Court of Appeal noted that Mr Smith was required to use the firm’s van for assignments and was contractually obliged to do a minimum number of hours a week.
And that ruling was upheld unanimously by five Supreme Court justices today, who rejected an appeal by Pimlico Plumbers.
Lord Wilson said Pimlico could not be regarded as having been a “client or customer” of Mr Smith.
It is hoped that Mr Smith’s victory will have a knock-on effect against bogus self-employment.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said it was a “landmark victory” for workers who have “had enough of precarious conditions.
“Pimlico Plumbers and companies like it must put an immediate end to exploitative practices and ensure that workers have full access to their legal rights, such as the minimum wage and sick pay.
“The next Labour government will ensure that all workers have equal rights from day one.”
Mr Smith said he would now be celebrating his victory with a drink.
“I’m glad it’s all over. It has been quite stressful and arduous,” he said outside the court.
He is now a “proper” self-employed plumber, he said.
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