Connecting to LinkedIn...

Self Employed or Worker? Why it matters?

posted almost 5 years ago

Plumber E1486992456243

Gary Smith was a self-employed contractor.  He worked for Pimlico Plumbers for 6 years. He was VAT registered.  He paid tax on a self-employed basis.

Following a heart attack in 2010, Gary wanted to reduce his hours.  The Company said “no” and his van taken away. He claimed he was dismissed.

The case asked what was Gary’s true employment status? Was he self-employed? Was he a “worker”? This is hugely important. “Workers” have rights.

But the contract said he was self-employed

You may have a contract that says they are self-employed.  A Tribunal wants to know what really happens.  It will look at whether there is:

-Mutual obligation


-A requirement for a personal service.

If there is, the Tribunal will then ask questions such as:

-Can a replacement be sent to do the work?

-Can they be told what work to do?

-Can they be moved from one task to another?

-Who decides how the work is done?

-Are they a skilled person or expert in their own field?

-Who decides what, when and how hours are worked?

-Who provides the tools?

-Who pays for supplies?

-Does the Company have to provide work?

-Does the worker have to do the work?

For 6 years, Gary Smith had only ever worked for Pimlico Plumbers. He drove a van with their livery on it.  He wore their uniform. When he tried to reduce his hours, his request was refused. The Court of Appeal decided in reality, he was a “worker”.

Article written by Parallel HR's Debbie Glinnan, Futureactive's trusted HR partner, see more at