OPINION: Purplebricks LPEs are being treated like mushrooms

Russell Quirk

I recently broke the news here that Purplebricks were to force their self-employed LPEs to become employees and which some, perhaps Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, might argue they have been all along.

Imagine if Purplebricks were shown to have actually been employers and were then on the hook for hundreds of instances of National Insurance and employer pension contributions backdated to 2014? Plus sickness, maternity, paternity and holiday pay in favour of the ‘employees’ themselves.

This eventuality would be catastrophic for a business with such a fragile profit margin – at just 6% of revenue at best.

When compelled to announce their employment strategy to the stock exchange the day after our PIE scoop and in subsequent correspondence that I’ve been fed, Purplebricks’ management stated that LPEs had until the end of August to decide whether to make the switch and, of course, we now know that not every application was going to meet with acceptance. Not much time really to make a career and perhaps life changing decision though.

Yet, given the enormity of what’s going on here and how it affects over 600 people and their families, you’d imagine that Purplebricks would have furnished each and every LPE with full contractual details of what the terms are in this new deal?

Well, no. It seems not.

I receive news from inside the organisation and with multiple messages from disgruntled LPEs, that written contracts have been devoid of necessary detail or have simply not been received by many, many of the people affected by this issue. So how on Earth are these folks supposed to make a decision in good faith and with adequate knowledge of the small print when the small print itself is seemingly being kept from them?

Moreover, with a source telling me that ‘hundreds of contracts remained unsigned with just day to go until the deadline’, what will this debacle do for team motivation and performance in the coming weeks and what effect will any understandable staff negativity have on customer experience? It’s an obvious answer and certainly does not bode well for future growth nor share price.

It gets worse. One of the rather brave whistle-blowers that have contacted me over the last couple of days asserts that the details of the new commission regime including the commission rates themselves, are being withheld ‘until your employment contract is signed’. If so, it is surely wrong to push your workforce to contract to an agreement and its terms without disclosing the important aspects of the actual monies that may or indeed may not be possible to earn. My supposition in a previous piece was that commission rates for former LPEs will be cut by Purplebricks. It’s not too much of a stretch now to conclude that this is possibly what’s happening here as, otherwise, surely the percentages and the conditions of pay would be revealed readily?

All things considered, the management should be ashamed.

I wrote a headline to my first article on this subject two weeks ago ‘Is this the end of Purplebricks?’. Honestly (and sadly), I think it must indeed now be the beginning of that end – or certainly that of the current management team.


OPINION: If this rumour is true, is it the end for Purplebricks?


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  1. Hillofwad71


    Fair play  to the  Quirkster feeding the inside track

    More Trouble at Purple Mill

    August Instructions have fallen  off a cliff. You can roll back the years to 2016  before it was any  less

    Axel have now completed the diverting purchase of £1bn Portico

    .Surely they ought to be introducing what the Germans are best known for into the business rather than demoralise and demotivate their workforce ?

    Organisation, planning and perfectionism.


    Still at least they can rely on their Trustpilot reviews !

    “Helen Elvins. She is the best LPE ever at Purplebricks. She has helped us tremendously with getting our house ready to go back on the market.”


    That is if she still remains on the premises and doesn’t  vote with her feet and move to where she is truly appreciated !


    It really  is a pig’s ear .

  2. IheartRE

    Well, Russell, it wasn’t long ago that you were trying to play catchup to PB with your own version of their dubious schemes. So you know…Glass Houses…Rocks…etc…

    1. Bosky

      It wasn’t long ago that posters would be disparaging towards Russell, but what better way for Russell to gain a following by  comradeship gained in the course of PB bashing.

      1. Hillofwad71


        As the saying goes

        “The enemy of my enemy is my friend ” LOL

  3. TDGC

    “sign before we tell you how you’ll earn your money!”… A shocking way to treat people. I suspect they’d expect transparency from their employees, shame its not the other way around.

  4. Ric

    Local Property Mushroom…

    1. Ric

      PS – Before anyone is offended by being called a LPM, when I first read the headline, I just imagined someone at PB had the job of pouring Garlic Sauce over new recruits… ****** love garlic mushrooms.  

  5. PeeBee

    “Honestly (and sadly), I think it must indeed now be the beginning of that end”

    “sadly”, Mr Quirk?  I think not.  You’re in your element.  That bus you were looking for has finally turned up, two years down the line.

    1. PeeBee

      Good to see truth still hurts…

  6. Iain Lock

    I am an employment lawyer and I am interested to note that  PB are not disclosing their remuneration package when sending out contracts or statements of terms.

    Since the 6th April 2020 it is a legal requirement for an employer who is offering a new job to commence on or after the 6th April, to provide a written statement of employment particulars or an employment contract, on or before the start of the employment, which must set out certain information including:

    • pay, including how often and when

    • any other benefits, including non-contractual benefits such as childcare vouchers or company car schemes

    If the whistle-blower is correct then PB are not following, or are not aware of the obligations they have to provide full details of the terms of employment they are offering.

    Iain Lock Q&A HR



    1. Dick Value


    2. DefinitelyNotMW

      I came here to see this.

      But given that this is a company that has thumbed its nose at the laws the rest of us have obeyed, will the threat of being found out for this even cause them to pause for a moment?

      The guardians of laws and standards – EmptySeat, TPO, PropertyMark et al – have been complicit for the entire existence of this company.

      1. PeeBee

        “EmptySeat, TPO, PropertyMark et al – have been complicit for the entire existence of this company.”
        In fairness, they have had to be.  It was a Government decision to ‘open up’ the home buying and selling process in the early ‘noughties’, supposedly to encourage price competition and improved customer experience – but as we all know, in effect has done nothing more than dumbed down the profession and allowed ‘passive intermediaries’ to exist under the banner of Estate Agents.
        Given the circumstances, how could the regulators put a stop (as they should have) to what their lords and masters opened the floodgates for?

  7. Snyper

    How anyone is expected to sign a contract before knowing terms, commission, etc is beyond me. What a farce.

  8. Probably Pork in the Pie

    Is RQ buying PB as he once bought Countrywide???

  9. AgentQ73

    Anyone think of any other business that kept the staff in the dark before dropping all the staff in the proverbial ?

  10. conoco9

    Mushrooms! Shitake Mushrooms!

  11. Ostrich17

    PB have sufficient cash to rent and kit out a High St. office for each LPE.


    That would really disrupt the onliners – what would Yopa/Strike/KW/Ewemove make of it?

  12. Another Agent

    PB might just be preempting an ‘Uber’ review of the real estate industry around the status of ‘self employed’ agents. By making a change now, they may avoid a retrospective claim by LPEs to past NI and other entitlements. If so, then it shows good foresight. However doing it in such a shoddy, Poorly executed way will have as big an impact in the end due to ******* off top performers who can move to any number of ‘self employed’ models and retain between 50-90% of their fees. The reputation also damage will also impact future recruitment of great people as PB cannot be trusted as an employer. Exiting LPEs have families and huge social networks and they also have homes to sell or rent out.

    1. Iain Lock

      Inevitably there will  be a review or an Employment Tribunal case regarding “self employed” agents. I have had discussions with a number of  estate agents who operate a self employed model and from a legal perspective, in most models I believe that the agents would be classed as employed. This may have a knock on effect with other models of this type and if it saw there demise I think this would be a shame as many people enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working in this self employed way.


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