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Written on 13th February 2017 by Alexander Wright

The decision in the Pimlico case was the latest decision to highlight the importance of properly employing carers, read the BBC article here. Alexander Wright, senior associate – solicitor at Boyes Turner, explains more.

What is this case about?

Gary Smith was a plumber for Pimlico Plumbers. He was working on a self-employed basis, but when he wanted to go part time after an illness Pimlico refused. Mr Smith claimed that he was in fact a “worker”, not self-employed, and that he was “dismissed”. He claimed that as a worker he was entitled to basic workers’ rights, which are not given to self-employed contractors.

I employ carers, not plumbers, so how does this affect me?

If you are a Deputy or Attorney and you are directly employing carers, it is very important to know which of your carers is actually an “employee” or “worker” and who are “self-employed”. In this case Pimlico plumbers have had significant legal fees because they didn’t get it right. If any of your carers think they are “self-employed” it is best that you check this with an employment specialist.

What is the risk to me?

If a self-employed worker decides that they think they are an employee they can take the claim to the Employment Tribunal. If you are the employer then the claim will be against you personally. You would have legal fees and other financial penalties. It’s not a risk worth taking. It’s one reason why it is so important to have Employers Liability Insurance.

How can I be sure that someone is self-employed?

Speak to an employment specialist because this area of law is changing all the time. Just because a person says they are self-employed doesn’t mean that they are. Even if you have a contract saying they are self-employed, that is not enough. There are several factors that need to be considered and it’s not advisable to make this decision without legal assistance.

How do I check if I’m at risk?

In the Court of Protection team we employ hundreds of people to care for our clients. We get every contract checked by our employment specialists. We know the importance of making sure that our clients are fully protected. Sometimes we recruit people who say they are self-employed but we see them as “employed”. Every contract needs to be checked carefully.