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Supreme Court Ruling: Gig Workers are Entitled to Employment Rights

In a momentous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that some gig economy workers may be entitled to employment rights.

Mr Smith was one of 125 contractors who worked for the Pimlico Plumbers in London using a company uniform and rented van.  Crucially, and despite the fact that Mr Smith had some functional and financial independence from Pimlico, there were a number of other factors from which the court implied that he should be entitled to worker’s rights.  Pimlico was able to exert tough control over him during his periods of work, and enforce when and how much to pay him. Pimlico were also able to restrict Mr Smith from competing with Pimlico after he left the company.

The Pimlico case coincides with a Government review of employment law, published in February 2018. The review suggested renaming gig workers as ‘dependent contractor’ and recommended making it easier to distinguish workers from the self-employed.

This Supreme court ruling has made it easier to understand the rules which distinguish employees or workers from the truly self-employed.

The rise and rise of gig workers represents a potential threat to companies who use these workers as part of their business model. Some gig workers, especially those who can demonstrate the have limited independence from their ‘employer’, may be entitled to take that employer to a Tribunal when the relationship with that employer breaks down.

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