Fri 03 May 2019

Gig Economy Update - May 2019

We look at some recent cases relating to employment status and the gig economy.  

After seven years battling through the courts arguing about employment status, the shining star of gig economy cases Smith v Pimlico Plumbers may have fizzled out.  The case, which received a significant amount of mainstream press coverage, had dealt with the preliminary point of whether Mr Smith was a worker, and therefore entitled to holiday pay, rather than self employed. Having successfully established in the Supreme Court that he was indeed a worker the case headed back to the employment tribunal.  The tribunal then had to deal with a further preliminary point - whether Mr Smith had made his claim within the requisite time limits for doing so.  Regulations require such claims to be made within three months of each period of holiday.  Unfortunately for Mr Smith the tribunal found against him, and his holiday pay claim was dismissed.  It has been reported that the outcome will be appealed, with his representative pointing out the unfairness of that requirement on gig economy workers who mistakenly believe themselves to be self-employed.   

Meanwhile the European Parliament has approved new EU rules to protect gig economy workers.  The new rights proposed include more predictable hours for gig economy workers and the right to compensation for cancelled work, though the genuinely self employed will not be covered.  These rules will only apply in the UK if the country is still part of the EU in three years time. However, some of the plans are already proposed in the UK Government's Good Work Plan which was published in December 2018 and it is anticipated that these will proceed irrespective of the outcome of Brexit.

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