Gig economy and employment status
On the judgment date of 13th June 2018, Gary Smith was victorious, as his battle to be identified as a worker was further supported in a ruling at the Supreme Court.
This employment status case is well renowned. It emphasised the fact that labelling a worker as ‘self-employed’ does not mean that the corresponding legal status will stand.
Self-employed or worker?
Employers should be aware of the defining characteristics of a self-employed person and ensure that the day to day operation of that relationship mirrors those characteristics.
In this case, there was significant discussion around Mr Smith’s contract which obligated him to perform the work himself. Although he could swap shifts with another Pimlico Plumber, he did not have the unfettered right to substitute himself with another appropriate individual (from outside the organisation).
The employer had significant control
Pimlico Plumbers had a significant amount of control over Mr. Smith. They required him to wear a certain uniform, they controlled his administration duties and they controlled when he did his work and how much he was paid.
These factors pointed to an imbalance of power in the relationship and although there were some factors which pointed to self-employment, overall it was determined that Pimlico Plumbers was not a client or customer of Mr. Smith, they were his employer.
The understanding is that the development, in this case, has not provided any new learning points to help businesses determine whether an individual is self-employed or a worker. This is because the court was reviewing very specific circumstances and the focus was on whether the tribunal was entitled to find that Mr. Smith was a worker, based on the facts of the case.
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