pimlico plumbers
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Supreme Court rules against Pimlico Plumbers

This could be a big deal for the 'gig economy'... but every case is different

A Supreme Court ruling yesterday has people speculating about whether change is gonna come to the 'gig economy'.

What it means: Once upon a time, an engineer named Gary Smith worked for a company called Pimlico Plumbers.

He wore a uniform, had minimum hours per week, drove a branded van, and was paid in what were referred to as 'wages' in contracts. But he was self-employed and VAT registered (which means Pimlico Plumbers treated their relationship to him like they're his client, not like he's their employee.)

Then, he suffered a heart attack, wanted to reduce his working days to three, and was dismissed. The Supreme Court has ruled he should have been classified as a worker with all the protections that comes with: including now being able to claim unfair dismissal.

The case is a big deal because it opens the doors to the increasing numbers of people on self-employment contracts taking regular work with one company to start questioning their status and rights with confidence that courts might rule in their favour.

But the CEO of Pimlico Plumbers is furious: he says this'll end badly for all involved if employers get scared of hiring people on freelance or self-employed contracts because they're worried they'll be called out for exploitation, when, he says, in this case in particular, Gary Smith was a highly skilled worker on a six figure salary.

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