Every so often, a case hits the media which immediately sets the phone ringing and the emails hitting the MAD inbox.
In case you’ve not followed the headlines and the ruling, it centred on the decision by the Supreme Court to conclude in favour of contractor Gary Smith.
Whilst Mr Smith was paying self-employed tax, and was also VAT registered, he was effectively a ‘worker’, having been exclusively operating for that plumbing business for a number of years.
Within moments of the ruling, online news was referring to the case as a game-changer, and it’s no wonder it worried a lot of businesses.
Given our so-called ‘gig economy’, it’s natural that there are now more and more people employed in circumstances which are looser than the traditional 9to5 PAYE format which was once the norm.
There are many thousands of people maintaining income as contractors, freelancers, consultants and appointed specialists.
Our over-riding message to all employers who have staff in ‘contractor’ style arrangements, is that the law simply wants to be sure of fair and proper practices.
That’s been at the core of the Taylor Review and other ongoing analysis into working practices being led by the government.
Clearly, we’re in a very different employment era in 2018, and that means a whole plethora of ways in which people are tasked with delivering work. Thank goodness work is ongoing to bring legislation in line with that.
In the meantime, we would say this to any business owner who feels that they may need to look at how they contract work or engage self-employed persons:
- Don’t panic that this is a dramatic turnaround and a criticism of anyone employing contractors
- Do look at which of your contractors you are ‘long term’ engaged with, particularly where they are exclusively working with you
- If there are situations of exclusively working on your behalf, consider some advice around making policies and procedures fully robust – for peace of mind, if nothing else
- Ask yourself what you have in place for contractors around holiday, sick pay, maternity and paternity, and whether it is ever acceptable to have a ‘substitute’ contractor in cases of urgent need
We welcome a conversation with employers feeling affected or uncertain as a result of the case. We’re here to help you get beneath the jargon and understand any obligations, rights and opportunities.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.