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The danger of zero hours!

24 Sep 2018

 

Is it the case that a person engaged on a zero hours contract could be considered an agency worker if their position is temporary rather than permanent?

 

This matter met the attention of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Matei v. Brook Night Garden Ltd. In this case, the claimant was employed as a security guard on a zero hours’ contract.  He performed tasks at a number of different sites at different client bases and named clients.  However, most of his work was done for one particular client-MITIE 

 

After a period of 21 months he was dismissed. The claimant then brought a claim stating that he was an agency worker and therefore entitled to the same basic working conditions as the members of staff of MITIE as he had more than 12 weeks’ service.

 

Fortunately for the claimant, the Tribunal agreed on the basis that he had been given work for the hirer namely MITIE and worked under their supervision.   The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision on employee status.  The fact that he worked in the zero hours’ contract does not mean that he could not be a permanent employee.

 

Lessons

 

  • This is an interesting case in that it shows that where employers may feel that they have no employee responsibilities to individuals who have come via agencies that indeed a Tribunal will look at the actual nature of the working relationship and make that determination. 

  • Giving a different tag or name to the relationship is not a fool-proof method of reducing liability.

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