So this is a very quick video to tell you that today, finally, the Supreme Court have ruled on the case of Gary Smith versus Pimlico Plumbers and Charlie Mullins.
Charlie Mullins famously said that his workers, the people that work for him, the plumbers, “couldn’t have their cake and eat it”. But it appears today that the Supreme Court have said, actually, yes they can.
This is going to go across the whole of the gig economy. What they’ve said is that although Gary Smith decided that he wanted to be self-employed, that he was VAT registered, that he hired his vehicle from Pimlico Plumbers, he was actually a worker.
Now, that doesn’t sound like a big deal to some people, but it means that he’s entitled to national minimum wage, he’s entitled to sick pay, and there are other benefits that he is entitled to.
And it’s not just him. It’s going to be anybody who works in that gig economy space. It’s going to stretch to delivery drivers, to Uber drivers, Addison Lee drivers, anybody who has plumbers, engineers, air conditioner specialists, security guards, cleaners, even waiting staff.
We’ve been waiting for this ruling. It is being seen as a landmark ruling, and the Supreme Court have said that, actually, despite the fact that Gary was given the option as to whether or not he wanted to be self-employed or whether he wanted to be an employee and given the fact that he’s been earning £100,000 a year as a self employed person; when he got ill, he has turned the tables on his employer and decided actually he wanted to be classed as an employee or worker.
These are really, really important details for anybody who’s looking to employ contractors. It is really important to make sure that you’ve got employment status right, because again, it reinforces the fact that, it is not up to the employer or the individual to decide the basis of that employment relationship. The law determines whether or not somebody is an employee, whether or not they are genuinely self-employed, and there are a series of tests that have to be applied to every relationship to make sure that as a business owner when you take on an employee, you’re taking them on as a genuine employee, or if you take someone on as a contractor, they are a genuine contractor.
The expression that I use is, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck; regardless of whether you call it a hen, a goose, or a chicken.
Employment status is going to be all over the news in the next 24 – 48 hours; it’s all about the gig economy, and it’s all about making sure that the people who are working for you are doing so on a legally acceptable basis. You don’t get to choose, and nor do they. It’s a case of what does the law say.
We’ve finally got some clarity, but it’s going to be difficult for employers to implement.