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Employment Law Case Update: Pimlico Plumbers

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The case of Pimlico Plumbers and another v Smith has been regularly in the news over recent years and that doesn't show signs of stopping.  Our Employment team review here the outcome of another case involving these parties, this time involving holiday pay.  

Mr Smith, a plumbing and heating engineer, worked for Pimlico Plumbers Ltd between August 2005 and April 2011. Mr Smith was engaged on a self-employed basis, but made a claim that he was an employee of Pimlico Plumbers.

The case, which was originally heard by the Employment Tribunal (ET), ruled that Mr Smith was a worker of Pimlico Plumbers in both an original hearing in April 2012, and an appeal hearing in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in 2014. The Tribunal ruled that Mr Smith was a worker. Pimlico Plumbers appealed this twice, but both the Court of Appeal (CoA) and the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the original Tribunal’s decision.

As a result, Mr Smith argued that he was entitled to £74,000 backdated statutory annual leave entitlement, as the ET, EAT, CA and SC had recognised him as a worker. On 18 and 19 March 2019, Pimlico Plumbers and Mr Smith attended the Croydon Employment Tribunal to decide the holiday pay and deductions claim. Pimlico Plumbers admitted an unlawful deductions claim of £336, but refuted the payment of £74,000.

Pimlico Plumbers has admitted that Mr Smith’s leave was unpaid, but did not believe that Mr Smith was entitled to any payment. Pimlico Plumbers also stated that Mr Smith’s claim was time barred because Mr Smith should have brought a Tribunal claim within three months of each unpaid leave date starting from 2005, unless each leave date was taken within three months of the last as a series of leave.

The Tribunal found that Mr Smith’s last holiday leave was on 4 January 2011. Therefore, pursuant to the three-month tribunal time limit for lodging claims, his claim had to be lodged no later than 3 April 2011. At the time that Mr Smith brought his Tribunal claim in 2011, he was not aware that he was entitled to paid leave whilst engaged with Pimlico Plumbers. 

This case therefore highlights the importance in which to bring the claim within the three month time limit. Regardless as to whether a claimant is aware of this three month timeframe, Tribunals are unlikely to waiver from such a rule, as can be evidenced by the ruling in this case.

If you have questions regarding employment status, you can contact the Employment team today on 023 8071 7717 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.