A heating engineer from Kent, who won a claim against Pimlico Plumbers at the Supreme Court in June 2018, has now lost his claim for £74,000 in annual leave as he had not filed the paperwork quickly enough, an employment tribunal in Croydon ruled.
The Supreme Court decision last year upheld a previous Court of Appeal ruling that Gary Smith should be classified as an employee of Pimlico Plumbers and not self-employed, despite having signed an agreement with the company describing himself as self-employed. During his time with the Pimlico Plumbers – from August 2005 until April 2011 – Mr Smith paid tax on a self-employed basis and worked solely for the plumbing and service maintenance organisation.
Mr Smith’s lawyer, Jacqueline McGuigan, announced that he was “extremely disappointed at the outcome after spending seven years going through the courts defending his legal right to be recognised as a worker” and plans to appeal the tribunal’s decision.
According to Ms McGuigan, Mr Smith was unaware he was entitled to paid leave during his employment with Pimlico Plumbers, and therefore did not bring a claim until after his contract was terminated in May 2011. Ms McGuigan stated the tribunal’s ruling was made under regulations that stipulated Mr Smith should have made his claim for missed pay within the three-month limit of each holiday period from as far back as 2005.
The CEO of Pimlico, Charlie Mullins, commented:
“While the Supreme Court deemed him to be a ‘worker’ and entitled to associated rights, the tables have been turned and common sense prevailed in the actual employment tribunal and Mr Smith has been told that he wasn’t entitled to a penny.”
Mr Mullins is also considering suing for damages, “since there are some serious and obvious issues of reputational harm at stake here, which I am eager to pursue”.
This case is the latest in a long line of legal challenges on employment rights – such as those involving Uber and Deliveroo – and the failure of Mr Smith’s claim has been described by legislation expert, Neil Tonks as a "real blow to individuals in the gig economy looking to make similar claims."
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