This Content Was Last Updated on April 21, 2020 by Jessica Garbett


Theres a report today (BBC linkCourt of Appeal Link) of a self employed Plumber contracting to the well known “Pimlico Plumbers” winning a tribunal action and subsequent appeal on the question of whether his entitlement to employment rights.

This is a notoriously tricky area – we used just to have to consider employed v self employed.  In recent years the concept of a “worker” has come into play as well, in essence a half way house where a person can both be self employed and have employment rights, and it seems this is the grounds this case was fought on.

The agreement between Pimlico Plumbers and the worker included:

  • Reference to “normal working hours”
  • Compulsory “on call” times
  • Requirement to wear Pimlico Plumbers logoed uniform
  • Pimlico Plumbers issued mobile phone
  • Hire of a van from Pimilco Plumbers

Clearly there were conversations and advice that the outside observer isn’t party to, but on the face of it those factors above paint a picture of someone who is employed not self employed, and certainly Whitefield as a firm would have flagged concerns if we learned that a client of ours was engaging self employed operatives on this basis.

The decision is another blow against the “gig economy”.

In terms of our clients, relevance is:

Anyone engaging self employed assistance, please make sure that the employed v self employed decision is credible, and that you don’t create problems for yourself with working methods

Contractors working through Personal Service Companies – a set of circumstances like this would be very weak for IR35 status

Remember the “holy trinity” of employment status tests – personal service, mutuality of obligations and control.

See our guide on Employment Status and IR35 Status Check List