Employment status: the ongoing saga

27 June 2018

Employment Status has been a difficult issue over the past couple of years, with the rise of the ‘gig-economy’ employers are often finding it tricky to determine who is an employee, worker or self-employed contractor.

Many big-name companies have been to some of the highest courts in the country debating the status of the individuals who work for them.

Most recently it was the turn of the Supreme Court to determine the employment status of a Pimlico Plumbers’ plumber after they appealed every other courts decision that he was a ‘worker’ and not a self-employed contractor.

It comes as no great surprise that the court rejected Pimlico Plumbers’ appeal. The plumber being a ‘worker’ had been a consistent finding from the outset of the case! In coming to their decision the court found that a main feature of the plumber’s contract was an obligation to provide personal performance.

The court also found that because the plumber was subject to Pimlico Plumbers’ tight control; for example in relation to his ID badge, van, uniform and Pimlico Plumbers strict administrative controls and payment terms, Pimlico Plumbers were not his client or customer.

Does this decision take us any further forward? Unfortunately not. The court’s decision has not provided us with any greater clarity on the legal tests for ‘worker’ (or ‘employee’) status, and reiterates that tribunals will reach a decision based on the facts and circumstances in each particular case. What is clear, once again, is that tribunals will not accept cleverly-worded contractual documentation as determinative of employment status.

In short, our firm advice is to ensure that you are clear of the status of employees throughout the logistics chain and drivers in particular.

The content of this article is for general information only. For further information regarding any of these topics, please contact Sonya O'Reilly.

This article is from the June 2018 issue of Deliver, our newsletter for those working within the road transport and logistics sector. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at June 2018.

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