Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday 13th June 2018 ruled that a plumber employed in the gig economy (sharing economy) had “worker” status in a landmark case that could have major implications.
The UK’s highest court decided unanimously that Gary Smith was a “worker” having worked for Pimlico Plumbers for nearly six years from 2005, even though his contract described him as a “self-employed operative”.
This case highlights both the good and bad for employees and employers. It shows that BOTH sides need be very clear about what they want out of each other. Where do sharing economy workers stand?
The contract did provide the worker with elements of operational and financial independence.
The workers services to the company’s customers were marketed through the company. However, the platform/company tried to control the hours that the worker was available and did not allow for a reduction. A lower court earlier ruled that Mr Smith was a worker because he was required to use the firm’s van and was obliged to do a minimum number of hours a week, this decision upheld by the Supreme Court.
This case follows a similar ruling in November, when an employment tribunal said that drivers for US ride-hailing company Uber were workers, not self-employed. Uber is appealing this ruling.
Clearly employment law is starting to fall behind the reality of how people are choosing to work and how companies and platforms want to manage the ebb and flow of work.
Part of the issue is that Freelance should be Freelance and attempts to control hours etc start to blur this.
At MIC Global are focused on changing the way insurance is developed and processed. We are in the forefront of that change; developing policies by the job, by the hour, by the day and by the Km, thus fitting our model to that of the platforms and the freelancers that work though them. We are unbundling clauses so that the cover offered fits with the actual job or process being undertaken.