A Pimlico Plumber was held to be a worker despite his contract
labelling him as an independent contractor. This gives him a right
to be paid holiday and the national minimum wage, amongst other
Mr Smith was a plumber with Pimlico Plumbers for over 5 years.
Around 4 months after Mr Smith suffered a heart attack, Pimlico
terminated his contract. Mr Smith brought claims in the Employment
Tribunal claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, sick pay,
holiday pay, unlawful deductions from wages and disability
Before the Employment Tribunal could hear those claims, it had
to determine whether Mr Smith was in fact an employee or a worker
rather than a self-employed person in business on his own account.
In order to do so, it had to look at the contractual and factual
relationship between him and the company. Among the factors taken
into consideration were the following:
Mr Smith's contract said that he
was under no obligation to accept work, and that Pimlico was not
obliged to give him work, but that Mr Smith should complete a
minimum of 40 hours' work per week.
Whilst Mr Smith would drive a Pimlico
Plumbers branded van and wear a uniform, he was obliged to provide
his own tools and materials.
Mr Smith was VAT registered,
completed tax returns on the basis that he was self-employed and
would submit invoices to Pimlico in order to receive payment. He
would lose out on pay if a customer failed to settle a bill and he
had to provide his own liability insurance.
The contract did not expressly allow
Mr Smith to send in a substitute to perform work on his behalf.
However, it was found on the evidence that the plumbers would swap
assignments between themselves.
Mr Smith's contract also contained restrictive covenants,
including one which prevented him from rendering plumbing services
in the Greater London area for 3 months after the termination of
The Court of Appeal held that Mr Smith was a worker rather than
a self-employed contractor (however, he was not an employee so not
entitled to unfair dismissal protection). His contract, and the
reality of the working relationship, required him to provide
personal service. In addition, the degree of control Pimlico had
over Mr Smith's work was inconsistent with a client-contractor
It has been reported that Pimlico Plumbers is considering
appealing this judgment, though it follows several high-profile
cases in recent months challenging the mis-labelling of workers
within the 'gig economy' as self-employed persons.
Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and Mullins v Smith  EWCA
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