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Agency workers to be treated on par with permanent employees and can’t be discriminated a tribunal rules

Date: (8 March 2013)    |    

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A landmark case would become a precedent in setting a better anti discrimination rights for agency workers when an Employment Tribunal awarded a woman over £35,000 for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal in a case which was backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
An agency worker Corinda Pegg who was absent from her work due to depression was dismissed after 44 weeks of service the Tribunal heard.
She suffered a series of bereavements and was absent from work for a week receiving mental health residential care. And when she returned to work she could not be punctual which was questioned by her manager and she had answered that she was disabled.
Two months later, she was admitted to hospital following a panic attack and, whilst receiving medical care at home the following fortnight, she was told by phone that her employment had been terminated because of poor attendance and punctuality.
Though she had made a request that her condition should be kept confidential her works email revealed that her medical condition had been openly discussed with a colleague. And the data also showed that her dismissal had already been discussed even before any further requests for her absence from work was made.
The case went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the legal question of whether equality law protects agency workers from being discriminated against by an organisation they are supplied to.
The Judge said that, as Ms Pegg was under an obligation to work for Camden Council, it was subject to a legal duty not to discriminate. The compensation was awarded when the case returned for a full hearing to the Employment Tribunal.
Commission deputy director legal, Wendy Hewitt said the status of agency workers needed an urgent clarification in cases of discrimination especially with such sort of arrangements have become common.
This ruling would now clarify that agency workers were entitled to the same degree of protection from discrimination at their place of work as permanent employees she added.
Implemented in October 2011, the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) were designed to give agency workers greater parity with permanent staff.