Agency Workers and zero-hours contracts

23 August 2018

 

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that an employee on a zero-hours contract can be an agency worker if the position is temporary rather than permanent.

 

With thanks to Daniel Barnett's Employment Law Bulletin for its coverage of this case.

 

In the case Matei v Brooknight Guarding Limited, the Claimant was employed as a security guard on a 'zero hours contract' by the Respondent. He was assigned to different sites for different clients as and when required but he worked mostly for one particular client, Mitie. He was dismissed after 21 months.

The Claimant claimed that he was an agency worker, and therefore entitled to the same basic working conditions as the Mitie staff after 12 weeks' service. The tribunal agreed, on the basis that he had been supplied to work temporarily for the hirer (Mitie) and worked under their supervision and direction. His employer appealed.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision on 'employee status'. The employer argued that the fact he worked on a zero hours contract did not necessarily mean he could not be a permanent employee. The EAT rejected this. The position was temporary as it was not permanent or indefinite. The tribunal had adopted the correct approach to this, and even the employer's evidence suggested that the arrangement had been temporary.