IT firm faces tribunal for replacing self-employed contractor

IT
services company Lockheed Martin is facing an employment tribunal after
replacing a self-employed systems administrator with five years’ service with a
cheaper member of staff.

Tim
Tremaine, who was hired to provide network support for government IT sites
managed by Lockheed, is claiming compensation for alleged unfair dismissal
after the firm failed to offer him redundancy or alternative work.

The
case, which could set a legal precedent, highlights the potential risk
employers face from self-employed contractors claiming the same rights as
permanent employees.

Margaret
Davis, head of employment law at Field Fisher Waterhouse, said that although
the law is still developing, employers needed to be cautious.

"I
would be very nervous if a client told me an individual [contractor] had worked
at an organisation for five years, albeit on a contract that was continually
renewed or through a personal services company," she said.

Tremaine
filed a complaint with the employment tribunal after discovering an internal memo
that appears to show that Lockheed did not renew his contract so that it could
replace him with another contractor charging £10 less per hour.

He
claimed he should have been offered the opportunity to renegotiate his rates or
find alternative work within Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed
Martin said Tremaine was never one of its employees, but was employed by his
own company Yourlife, under a contract with recruitment agency Advanced
Resource Managers.

"Since
he was not an employee of Lockheed Martin, it would be inappropriate for us to
comment pending litigation," said a company spokeswoman.

By Daniel Thomas

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