In September 2012 an Employment Tribunal awarded an agency worker a large sum of money for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal against the Company she was employed to work at.

In Pegg v Camden Council, the Tribunal heard that Ms Pegg had been dismissed after 44 weeks service at the Council after absences caused by depression.

The case was sent to the Employment Appeal Tribunal to answer the legal question of whether equality laws protects agency workers from being discriminated against by the organisation they are supplied to. In early 2013 the Judge of the Appeal Tribunal said that as Ms Pegg was under an obligation to work for Camden Council, the Council was under a legal duty not to discriminate against her.

Details of the case

Ms Pegg had suffered a series of bereavements and was absent from work for a week receiving residential mental health care. On her return to work she was sometimes late and told her Manager this was due to her disability. Two months later she was admitted to hospital after a panic attack and while receiving medical care at home, she was told over the phone that her employment had been terminated because of poor attendance and punctuality.

Ms Pegg had asked for her medical condition to be kept confidential but e-mails from Camden Council revealed that her medical condition had been openly discussed with a colleague. Information from the Council also indicated that discussions about ending her employment had begun before requests for further information from her about the reasons for her absence from work.

The case was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Camden Council were ordered to pay Ms Pegg just over £35,000 in compensation. The case was brought under the old Disability Discrimination legislation as the Equality Act 2010 was not introduced when the dismissal occurred.

Conclusion:  Agency Workers will now have better protection against discrimination from the companies they are supplied to work at, in line with direct permanent employees of that company.

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to us at The HR Kiosk (click here) – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – you can retain us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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