Ryves Blog - Contracts for Service

The Pimlico Plumbers’ case brings into sharp focus the importance of the need for care in engaging workers under a ‘self-employed’ Contract for Services. Following on from the Uber and CitySprint judgements this case should provide some motivation for those organisations that engage people as ‘self-employed’ to review the terms under which they are so engaged. In our opinion the Pimlico Plumber’s contract then used was just plain sloppy; it reads as a slightly tweaked ‘cut and paste’ from a standard employment contract. In short, the main issues we see were:

  1. Control
    Mr Smith was clearly under Pimlico Plumbers ‘control’ – he was contractually required to comply with their Procedures and Working Practices (para 7 in judgement), contractually required to comply with PP’s provisions for dress and appearance (para 9 in judgement), required to work specified hours (para 10 in judgement) – none of these should be required of somebody who is genuinely in ‘business in their own right’.

  2. Exclusivity of Service
    Mr Smith had ‘a high degree of restriction on his ability to work in a competitive situation’ and was subject to post-termination restrictions (para 115) – a Contract for Services should have no such restrictions, the right to work for third parties should be explicit within it and no post-termination restrictions should be imposed.

  3. Right of substitution/personal performance of work
    Mr Smith’s right to substitute himself with another individual was highly restricted and therefore not ‘unfettered’. This seems to have been the weightiest point in all three judgements. Any restrictions should be limited to those of qualification and safety standards which could not be attacked on the same basis as in the PP case.

There are many other points of detail that make the contractual position and work arrangements between a well drafted Contract for Services and that which was used by Pimlico Plumbers substantially diferent. These include such issues as the terms of payment/costs of remedying defective work etc. – these are not really worth expanding upon – suffice to say the differences are plentiful and potentially helpful.

Our one caveat would be that if in reality the ‘custom and practice’ differs from the written contract then the ‘implied contract’ would be the reality (i.e. what actually happens). Should you be interested a ‘short form’ Contract for Services specific to the broad construction industry is available as a free download in the Resources section of this site.