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Major online agencies unaffected by Supreme Court ruling

Major online agencies appear to be unaffected by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision over workers' rights in the so-called 'gig economy'. 

Yesterday’s case concerned Gary Smith who had worked solely for a London firm called Pimlico Plumbers for six years; although he was VAT-registered and paid self-employed tax, he argued that he was entitled to workers' rights such as holidays and sick pay.

The Supreme Court agreed, which means that an employment tribunal can now examine Smith’s argument against Pimlico Plumbers as a worker, including a claim that he was unfairly dismissed.


The decision led some to interpret that the way was now clear for other self-employed freelance staff to claim the same.

Purplebricks had no comment to make. It is believed it regards the case as not being relevant to its circumstances, as its Local Property Experts are not self-employed but operate as incorporated companies.

Emoov says it is unaffected as well - its locally based agents are staff members and have similar conditions of service to headquarters staff.

Yopa, which has substantial investment from Savills and LSL Property Services, chose not to respond to EAT’s enquiry.

One regional High Street agency that spoke with Estate Agent Today, but asked not to be named, said several smaller agency chains may employ some negotiators who are in a similar position to Pimlico Plumbers’ freelance Gary Smith.

It is thought some maintenance operators working on contracts with letting agencies also operate under this status, as may retirees who work occasionally for the same company over an extended period.

However the total number of those affected who are working directly with estate and letting agencies is not thought to be at all high and, according to the regional agency, they can easily have their working arrangements changed to avoid the same issue.

Meanwhile Tim Goodwin, a workplace legal specialist at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, told the BBC that yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling may not apply for long anyway.

"Even with a high level decision like this, to a degree the issue of employment status in the gig economy is up in the air. The government is consulting on this issue, and may bring forward legislation. So it's quite possible that Parliament may overrule this decision within the next few months or years" Goodwin said.


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