U.K. Court Rules Against Plumbing Company In ‘Gig Economy’ Case


He added, “It can only lead to a tsunami of claims.”

The court’s scrutiny of the circumstances of Mr. Smith’s work could affect other companies that argue that workers in the so-called gig economy — those who, for example, work as freelancers or on short-term contracts — are self-employed, since other courts may look more closely at exactly how much control companies exert.


“This is relevant to the gig economy at large because, in many cases, workers in the gig economy don’t have any say in the prices charged, and they are under a certain degree of control from a platform,” said Valerio De Stefano, a law professor at the Institute for Labor Law and the Faculty of Law at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Susannah Kintish, the lawyer at the London-based firm Mishcon de Reya who is leading the case for Pimlico Plumbers, maintained that the court’s reliance on details particular to Mr. Smith’s case would make it difficult for other businesses looking to use it as a reference point.

Mr. Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers in London for six years until he was dismissed in 2011.CreditBen Stansall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“It doesn’t necessarily do anything” for other plumbers at the company, she said. “It doesn’t really even give Pimlico any guidance.”

There has been a push for tougher worker protections across Europe, spurred by a backlash against the gig economy, as well as by a number of high-profile legal cases, particularly in Britain.

In 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that a group of Uber drivers should be classified as workers, rather than self-employed contractors, as the company had argued. Uber, which counts Britain as its biggest market outside the United States, is appealing the decision.

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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/business/britain-gig-economy-pimlico-plumbers.html

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