Supreme Court judgment strikes a blow to gig economy

A landmark ruling by the Supreme Court could have huge ramifications for the UK’s gig economy, according to BBC News.

Plumber Gary Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years before a heart attack prompted him to request part-time working hours. The request was refused and Pimlico Plumbers took back the van they had leased Mr Smith.

The plumber challenged Pimlico Plumbers in an Employment Tribunal. The plumbing company’s defence claimed Smith, who was paying self-employed tax and was VAT-registered, was not an employee.

The Supreme Court held that Smith was a worker, and therefore entitled to employment rights such as holiday pay and sick pay.

Pimlico Plumbers Chief Executive Charlie Mullins condemned the finding, saying it would lead to a ‘tsunami’ of claims from former contractors claiming unfair dismissal.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the case indicated “how widely sham self-employment has spread” and called on the government to “crack down on bogus self-employment.”

The government has pledged to overhaul workers’ rights to improve conditions for workers, including those in the gig economy. The pledge was made after the 2017 Taylor Review argued that workers carrying out tasks for platform-based companies such as Deliveroo and Uber should be classed as dependent contractors and given ‘fair and decent’ working conditions.