I’ve received the most wonderful news that my company, Pimlico Plumbers, has been granted permission to appeal our long-running and potentially ground-breaking employment case to the Supreme Court.
This means we can appeal, to the highest court in the land, a Court of Appeal ruling from February this year, which found that one of my former Plumbers, Gary Smith, was entitled to certain employment rights, despite him having signed a contract with my company, as a self-employed plumber.
This case has been running for more than six years and throughout that time I have always maintained that Mr Smith was a self-employed contractor, and to my mind the evidence overwhelmingly supports our position.
The Supreme Court’s remit is to ‘hear appeals on arguable points of law of the greatest public importance’, and I am in no doubt that Pimlico’s case falls squarely into this category.
Its ramifications will impact upon many thousands of companies in the building industry and beyond, and potentially affect the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of UK workers. I am needless to say incredibly grateful that the Supreme Court has agreed to look again at this case.
Throughout this long legal process there has been a lot of confusion, and dare I say, even the spreading of misinformation about the case, by those with their own particular agendas. Often the case has been reported in the media alongside claims from arguably exploited people engaged in low paid and unskilled tasks, like Uber drivers and Deliveroo food couriers.
There is, in reality, no comparison between a skilled trades person, like a plumber earning £150,000 a year, and a bike courier or mini-cab driver, struggling to make minimum wage. My people have great conditions and command huge money by virtue of their high skill levels, and if they didn’t wear my uniform they can make almost as good a living elsewhere.
There are exploited workers and there are Pimlico Plumbers, and the two quite literally live in different worlds; the later have big houses, expensive cars, great holidays and can send their children to the best schools.
This is the distinction that we are hoping to make clear to the Supreme Court. And to that end I was extremely buoyed by Matthew Taylor’s Review of Modern Working Practices, which identified a class of worker it called ‘Dependent Contractors’, who it felt were the true victims of a morally suspect use of self-employment. My people, with their heavily in demand, readily transferable skills, are in no way dependent on anyone or any company.
Let me be crystal clear, I completely condemn disreputable companies who are using fake self-employment to swindle workers out of pay and conditions, however at Pimlico Plumbers we are not doing that. So, it is my determined aim to convince the Supreme Court that by using self-employed status Pimlico Plumbers is doing nothing wrong, and what’s more is both morally and legally in the right.