Case details

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another (Appellants) v Smith (Respondent)

Case ID: UKSC 2017/0053

Case summary


Whether the respondent was a 'worker' within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Regulation 2 of the Working Time Regulations 1998;

Whether the respondent was in "employment" within s.83(2)(a) of the Equality Act 2010.


The respondent is a plumber who undertook plumbing work for the first appellant between 25th August 2005 and 28th April 2011. The first appellant is a full-service plumbing and maintenance company and the second appellant is its founder and owner. At the material time, the first appellant had 75 office staff and a bank of 125 contractors (including the respondent) that it could call on to carry out jobs for its customers. The respondent commenced proceedings in the Employment Tribunal on 1st August 2011, claiming that he was unfairly or wrongly dismissed by the first appellant. He also claims direct disability discrimination, discrimination arising from disability and failure to make reasonable adjustments. A pre-hearing review was listed to address whether the respondent was an employee of the first appellant, whether he was a worker, whether his working situation met the definition of "employment" in section 83(2)(a) of the Equality Act 2010, or whether he was self-employed in business on his own account. The Employment Tribunal decided that the respondent was not an employee, but that he was a worker and his working situation met the definition of "employment" in section 83(2)(a) of the Equality Act. Accordingly, it had jurisdiction to consider the complaints of direct disability discrimination, discrimination by reason of failure to make reasonable adjustments, and in respect of holiday pay as well as in respect of unauthorised deductions from wages. The appellants’ appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal were dismissed.

Judgment appealed

[2017] EWCA Civ 51


  1. Pimlico Plumbers Limited
  2. Charlie Mullins

Gary Smith



Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Hughes, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones

Hearing start date

20 Feb 2018

Hearing finish date

21 Feb 2018

Watch hearing
20 Feb 2018 Morning session Afternoon session
21 Feb 2018 Morning session