Supreme Court rules in favour of workers’ rights in Pimlico Plumbers case

The Supreme Court has today ruled in favour of workers’ rights, concluding a man who worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years should have the same rights as an employee.

Rejecting an appeal from Pimlico Plumbers, the court ruled that despite being VAT-registered and paying self-employed tax, Gary Smith was entitled to employment rights such as sick pay and holiday pay.

The case will have huge ramifications for people working in the gig economy for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This case has exposed how widely sham self-employment has spread. Bad employers are using every trick in the book to deny staff basic rights.

“It’s time to end the Wild West in the gig economy. The government must get tough on rogue bosses and give unions the right to organise in more workplaces.

“People shouldn’t have to go to court to get a fair deal at work. Companies that treat their staff like disposable labour must be brought to book.”

The government is due to respond to the Taylor Review of modern employment practices. The TUC wants ministers to quickly:

  • Crackdown on bogus self-employment by reversing the ‘burden of proof’ so workers benefit from rights unless the employer can show they are genuinely self-employed.
  • Ensure all workers are entitled to the same floor of rights currently enjoyed by employees.
  • Ensure unions have a right to access workplaces to tell workers about the benefits of union membership.


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