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Improved Agency workers rights

Improved Rights for Agency Workers

After an employment tribunal awarded a woman over £35,000 for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal, it seems that agency workers are set to have better anti-discrimination rights.

In a case funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the tribunal was told that agency worker Corinda Pegg had been dismissed after 44 weeks’ service due to absences caused by depression.

After a series of bereavements, she was absent from work for a week receiving mental health residential care. On her return to work

she was sometimes late and, when questioned by her manager, explained that this was due to her disability.

Two months later, Ms Pegg was admitted to hospital following a panic attack and, whilst receiving medical care at home, she was told by phone that her employment had been terminated because of poor attendance and punctuality.

Although she had requested confidentiality, work e-mails revealed that her medical condition had been openly discussed with a colleague. The data also indicated that discussions about ending her employment had begun before requests for further information about the reasons for her absence from work.

The case went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the legal question of whether equality law protects agency workers from being discriminated against by an organisation to which they are supplied.

It 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.

EHRC deputy director legal, Wendy Hewitt, said: "This case clarifies that agency workers are entitled to the same degree of protection from discrimination at their place of work as permanent employees."


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