Preferential treatment given to permanent employees over agency workers

2015-08-13 Philip posted:

The rights of temporary agency workers has been clarified by a recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Coles v Ministry of Defence.

The MoD in Wales employed a mix of permanent employees and temporary agency workers. It embarked upon a substantial restructuring exercise and put 530 permanent employees into a redeployment pool. Vacancies were advertised internally - all workers could see which vacancies were available, but permanent employees in the redeployment pool who wished to apply were given priority over temporary workers. Mr Coles, a temporary agency worker, argued that this prioritisation denied him the opportunity to apply for the position that he had temporarily held. He claimed that this was a breach of Article 6 of the Temporary Agency Worker Directive 2008, which requires that agency workers be informed of vacancies so that they have “the same opportunity as other workers in that undertaking to find permanent employment”.

Both the employment tribunal and the EAT disagreed with Mr Coles. They held that, although temporary agency workers do have various rights relating to equal treatment in respect of working time and pay, Article 6 only refers to providing equal information about vacancies. Therefore, it does not operate to prevent permanent employees from being given preferential treatment when it comes to filling any such vacancies.

The EAT decided Article 6 was clear in that its purpose and meaning is simply that information relating to a vacancy must be provided to temporary agency workers but does not restrict the terms on which employment might be offered and permits permanent employees having priority over temporary agency workers.

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