Working out whether someone is an employee, a worker or self-employed person can be difficult in practice but is significant. The genuinely self-employed have fewer rights, but certain tax breaks. “Workers” have some legal rights, for example, to the minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from discrimination. Employees work under a contract of employment and must do work personally. They all have workers’ rights plus more, such as minimum notice periods, and often subject to length of service, unfair dismissal and redundancy pay rights, to name but a few.
But identifying status can be difficult, especially as to who is a worker. Recently, the Supreme Court looked at the company Pimlico Plumbers. By looking at the ‘reality of the situation’ and the ‘true agreement between the parties’, the Court concluded that the plumber was a worker, despite the company holding him out as self-employed. He had to wear a company uniform, lease a van with a GPS tracker and company logo, and work a minimum number of hours. His contract referred to employee-like terms such as wages, gross misconduct and dismissal.
Major cases like this and those against Uber and Deliveroo could significantly impact the “gig” economy, encouraging others to bring claims for worker or employment rights. Pimlico Plumbers is not over, as a Tribunal will soon determine the plumber’s ultimate entitlements. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court laid down no clear guidance about how to classify workers. However, the Government recently completed a consultation exercise on how to make status rules clearer and aims to legislate in the near future.
If you are concerned about the status of those you engage for work or your own status, please contact Julian Parry, Partner and Head of Employment Law at Beers Solicitors on 01752 246011 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.