Are you really self employed

Employment Status


On 16th April 2012 an Employment Tribunal found that a Mr Smith, a Plumber who worked at Pimlico Plumbers for 6 years under the label “self-employed” was in fact a worker which entitled him to extended employment rights e.g. the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage, to holiday pay and sick pay. This finding was in spite of the fact that Mr Smith could reject particular jobs, go home as and when he wished, could work his own hours, there was no obligation for Pimlico to provide him with work and no obligation upon him to accept any work that was provided, he dealt with his tax returns and also used his own money for materials.

Pimlico Plumbers appealed that decision but on the 10th February 2017 the Court of Appeal agreed with the Tribunal’s decision that Mr Smith was a worker.

Pimlico Plumbers further appealed to the Supreme Court and on the 13th June 2018 the Court dismissed their appeal.

These findings come on the basis that Mr Smith was to provide his personal services to Pimlico and had no unfettered right to substitute. He was also required to wear branded uniform, drive a branded and tracked van, carry an identity card and closely follow the administrative instructions of its control room. There were also references within the contract to “wages”, “gross misconduct” and “dismissal” and Mr Smith was also subjected to restrictive covenants.

Unfortunately there is no black and white when it comes to employment status and the boundaries of employment status are now being tested more than ever with cases like Pimlico, Deliveroo and Uber.

Where an individual is providing personal services, is not marketing their services to other businesses, only working for one business with no unfettered right to substitute then the nature of that employment relationship needs to be reviewed carefully.

If you have concerns about your own employment status or that of an individual your business engages, then please do not hesitate to contact our Business department.