Court rejects agency worker’s unfair dismissal claim

An agency worker’s unfair dismissal claim has been rejected by the Court of Appeal today – putting an end to months of uncertainty about the employment status of agency workers.

Mrs James, who worked for Greenwich Council, brought a claim of unfair dismissal against the council when she was told she was no longer required.

James claimed she had an implied contract of employment with the council, despite signing a Temporary Workers Agreement which stated there was no such contract.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal last year ruled James could not claim unfair dismissal as there was no written contract of employment  – therefore she had no status as an employee.

But James appealed the decision, which was today rejected by the Court of Appeal, making clear that agency workers cannot claim employment status without a written contract.

Guy Guinan, partner in the employment team at national law firm Halliwells, said: “This decision has confirmed that the express contractual terms should always take precedence unless it can be shown that these are a mere sham.

“This is good news for agency workers and for companies that use them, as the flexibility of the agency worker means that they remain a popular option for businesses requiring temporary staff cover without the rigidity of an employment contract.”

Meanwhile MPs backing a new bill to ensure equal treatment for agency workers will be at the House of Commons on 6 February to show their support.

The Private Members Bill, being brought by Andrew Miller MP, is being launched ahead of its second reading on Friday 22nd February.

Agency workers from all over the country will also be in attendance in the House to tell MPs and media of their experiences and why they need legislation to protect them.

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