Yorkshire Bosses Using Temporary Workers Risk Unlimited Compensation Claims

Temporary worker legal advice

06.06.2006

Yorkshire businesses employing the regions 75,000 temporary workers may be failing to shift their employment practices and leaving themselves open to legal action, one of the regions leading lawyers has warned.

Matthew Brain, an employment partner, based at national law firm Irwin Mitchells West Yorkshire offices, in Queen Street, Leeds, gave the warning in advance of National Temporary Workers Week, taking place between June 5 and 9.

Mr Brain said: More Yorkshire employers than ever are choosing to take on temporary staff, as a way of staying flexible, as market demand fluctuates, but many are unaware of their legal obligations.

Despite most temporary workers being employed via agencies they are increasingly being regarded as employees of the end user.

He added one example of this was statutory rights regarding discrimination and harassment were the same for temporary and permanent staff.

Mr Brain said: Claims for harassment or discrimination by temporary employees can potentially be unlimited, as is the case with permanent staff.

How long an agency staff member has worked at a firm can also make a difference to their rights, warned Mr Brain.

He said: After a year of employment, temporary staff members rights become similar to those of staff on a permanent contract and they can claim for unfair dismissal if they believe they have been treated unreasonably.

Managers should ensure any contract with an agency explicitly states the worker is not an employee of the firm, but the agency itself. They should also consider insurance in the form of indemnities and warranties, to cover any loss caused by the worker.

Mr Brain warned employers to consider confidentiality issues as many temporary assignments can involve using and processing classified information, subject to data protection laws.

He said: Employers should ensure temporary staff are properly supervised and made aware of policies and procedures regarding confidentiality in the workplace. A full induction when they start should clarify this.

Regulations introduced in 2004 made employment agencies responsible for appropriately vetting staff supplied to their clients, including establishing their identity, and relevant experience, training and qualifications necessary to carry out the work.

But Mr Brain warned companies should not rely on agencies to ensure workers have the right to reside, and appropriate paperwork for working, in the UK.

He said: Ultimately its the employers responsibility and they will be liable if found employing illegal workers. Companies should not assume an agency will send someone suitable, they should ensure the temporary employee is vetted.

By thoroughly vetting temporary workers, employers can also ensure other members of staff are not being put at risk by an unsuitable employee.

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