Gig Economy: Workers win Employment Rights cases against Pimlico Plumbers, Hermes and Deliveroo

30 June 2018: Heating engineer, Gary Smith, from Kent, won his claim against Pimlico Plumbers at the UK Supreme Court, establishing that he was a worker and not self-employed. Pimlico Plumbers, which lost at every stage of the dispute, had appealed to the highest court, arguing that those it sent out to repair leaking pipes and malfunctioning dishwashers were self-employed and not “workers”. Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers as a plumber and heating engineer for six years until 2011, when he suffered a heart attack. He claimed his subsequent request for a three-day week was rejected, the Pimlico Plumbers van he rented was taken away, and he was dismissed. A group of 65 Hermes couriers have won their fight to be treated as workers instead of independent contractors at an employment tribunal in Leeds which ruled that the couriers were entitled to receive the minimum wage and holiday pay, and to reclaim unlawful deductions from their wages, because they had incorrectly been classified as self-employed. This ruling will affect 14,500 Hermes couriers who are engaged under the same contract as the 65 couriers who took the case to the tribunal. But it is likely that Hermes will appeal for review of this ruling.

In another victory, a group of 50 Deliveroo couriers will share a six-figure payout from the takeaway delivery firm in a settlement of an employment rights claim. The riders had argued that they had been unlawfully denied rights, including the legal minimum wage and paid holiday, after being labelled self-employed contractors. However, this settlement comes without establishing that these workers are not ‘self-employed’. The company was likely to lose at the employment tribunal and hence settled with the workers before the final ruling.

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