AWR does not cover workers on indefinite assignments

In a substantial case in December 2013 (Moran and Others v Ideal Cleaning Services Ltd and Celanese Acetate Ltd) the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that the Agency Workers Regulations do not cover workers who are on ‘indefinite’ assignments with the end hirer, it only covers Workers who are on ‘temporary’ assignments.

This decision is very important, and may be appealed or may be subjected to updated legislation (from the EU or the UK).

The details are in our article here.

The workers were employed by cleaning agency, Ideal and from day one of their employment they were placed with Celanese on long-term assignments (with their contracts stating the hirer’s place of work as their place of work).

The workers were made redundant and claimed that the AWR applied to them and they were therefore entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been employed by Celanese directly. Ideal and Celanese argued that the Claimants could not be agency workers because they were not working ‘temporarily’, as they had been appointed to work for an indefinite period.

The original Employment Tribunal agreed with Ideal/Celanese that they were not agency workers, as defined by the Regulations, because they were not engaged on a temporary basis. The claimants appealed but the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the original decision.

The EAT said the word ‘temporary’ can mean something that is not permanent, or it can mean something that is short-term – although the two are not the same. The EAT said that in the context of the Regulations, the concept of ‘temporary’ means NOT permanent. ‘Permanent’ means indefinite or of an open-ended duration (it does not mean a contract that lasts forever as all contracts of employment are terminable by notice). The EAT said that a temporary assignment is one which will terminate once a particular condition has been satisfied – such as the expiry of a fixed period or the completion of a specific project.

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