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Plumbers set for test case employment status ruling
by Susie Hughes at 13:13 21/02/18 (News on Business)
A case about a plumber which is currently before the Supreme Court could have far-reaching consequences for the those workers who considered to be self-employed.
Gary Smith, a self-employed plumber, who worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years until 2011, is fighting for basic worker's rights. He claims he was dismissed because he wanted to go part time after suffering a heart attack.

Pimlico Plumbers, which has lost at every stage of the legal dispute so far, has appealed to the UKís highest court to argue that those it sends out to repair leaking pipes and broken dishwashers are self-employed and not 'workers'.

The case is being seen as a test case which could impact on employment rights for all of those in the so-called gig economy.

The Supreme Courtís judgment, which is expected to be reserved, will set a clear precedent for other gig economy disputes such as that between the cab firm Uber and its drivers.

Employment rights
Lawyers for Pimlico Plumbers told the Court that not every contract to provide services implied entitlement to employment rights.

Smith was registered for VAT, paid tax on a self-employed basis and worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers during his time with the company.


Tax specialists Qdos Contractors said that the case highlighted the need for clarity when it comes to defining a self-employed worker, gig economy worker and employee, particularly given ongoing IR35 uncertainty.

Seb Maley, said: "Following recent Uber and Deliveroo verdicts, the Pimlico Plumber case is yet another example of why employment status legislation must be simplified. With the lines currently blurred, it makes it incredibly confusing for the growing number of self-employed and gig economy workers to know where they stand with regards to employment rights.

"Recent changes to IR35 in the public sector also strengthens the argument for a simplification of the rules, given that it is clients who now decide a worker's employment status for tax reasons.

"With the prospect of IR35 reform reaching the private sector as early as April 2019, the need for clear legislation defining the differences between a self-employed worker and employee have never been greater."

The verdict could have a significant impact on other businesses, who operate in a similar manner and the tens of thousands of workers who provide their services in this way.

However, the impact could be wider as the judges might comment make far-reaching comments on the employment status of these workers and similar, which would come at a time when the subject is already on the political agenda.

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2018

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