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Workers' Rights Plumber's Supreme Court case could have ‘huge ramifications’ for the gig economy

A LANDMARK case likely to have “huge ramifications” for the gig economy began at the Supreme Court today.

Gary Smith, a plumber who worked for Pimlico Plumbers for five years until 2011, brought a claim to be recognised as having been a worker by the company rather than as a contractor.

He claimed that, after a heart attack, his request to work three days a week was rejected and he was dismissed.

He has already won a number of court rulings that determined he could claim “worker” status, although he was described in his contract as a “self-employed operative.”

The Court of Appeal said that Mr Smith was a worker because he was required to use the firm’s van for assignments and was contractually obliged to do a minimum number of hours a week.

Pimlico Plumbers claims the Supreme Court hearing will have “significant ramifications” relating to employment law for a number of industries.

The company’s controversial chief executive Charlie Mullins, a Tory donor and former business adviser to David Cameron and George Osborne, said the case was different from other gig-economy cases that included delivery couriers and taxi drivers.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Smith’s lawyer Jacqueline McGuigan said that the legal issues in his case were the same as those for other gig-economy workers.

She said a victory for Mr Smith would “have a huge impact on other workers.”

Thomas Linden QC, for Pimlico Plumbers, said Mr Smith was a “skilled tradesman” and therefore in a strong position as a self-employed contractor able to command high earnings.

Mr Smith’s legal team will argue that the previous decisions were correct and should be upheld.

The hearing continues.


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