Agency worker appeal – Royal mail loses their appeal

Royal Mail Group and Angard Staffing Solutions have lost their appeal against workers who believe that they are agency workers and entitled to the same benefits as Royal Mail employees.

Angard Staffing Solutions is a Royal Mail subsidiary, supplying workers exclusively to Royal Mail Group. The group of workers claimed that they are entitled to the same employment rights as Royal Mail staff because they are defined as agency workers.

One of the claimants, Mr Kocur stated that he had worked for Angard since 2015 as an agency worker. He was seconded to Royal Mail and worked at a sorting centre in Leeds.

After reaching 12 weeks continuous service in June 2015 he triggered his right to equal treatment.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) agreed with the tribunal’s decision about Mr Kocur working as an ‘agency worker’ as this is within the meaning of Regulation 3 of the Agency Workers Regulations. The Regulations also class Angard as a ‘temporary work agency’ under Regulation 4.

Mr Kocur raised a grievance in October 2015 because he was getting shorter breaks than direct Royal Mail staff.

Soon after this, Mr Kocur took Royal Mail and Angard to tribunal for alleged instances of unfair treatment.

The tribunal heard that Mr Kocur was denied a swipe card to access the premises, he was also denied access to the on-site fitness centre. He was not paid during his rest breaks and did not receive the same amount of annual leave as other staff.

Although the tribunal dismissed his claims, the EAT allowed his appeal regarding annual leave and rest breaks.

Recently in the case of Angard Staffing Solutions & Royal Mail versus Mr Kocur and other claimants, clarification was sought about the worker status of Mr Kocur and several other members of staff wo had been supplied by Angard to Royal Mail.

Last year the employment tribunal ruled that the claimants were considered agency workers.

Royal Mail and Angard, however, argued that the tribunal had not considered that Mr Kocur was seconded exclusively to Royal Mail.

Because each supply of work was time-limited, it was impossible to call the relationship ‘open-ended’ which the tribunal felt categorised him as an agency worker.

A representative for Mr Kocur and the other claimants from the law firm Irwin Mitchell told the EAT that the companies had based their findings on the claimants’ contracts with the agency being of indefinite length. This definition did not take their work outside the definition of agency work.

Judge Auerbach agreed that the tribunal had, after carefully considering what had happened, correctly interpreted case law when making their decision.

 An employment partner at Irwin Mitchell, Shazia Khan stated that the claimants were delighted that the EAT recognised the appeal for what it was.

It was a ‘shameless attempt by the two companies to treat people as second-class citizens by denying them agency worker rights.’

Shazia Khan went on to say that they were disappointed with the continuation of unfavourable treatment, where there is a failure to provide equal access to PPE and hand sanitisers to agency workers compared to Royal mail staff.

Further, the claimants had been denied £200 recognition payment which was awarded to postal workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The payment had only been made to Royal mail staff, not agency workers.

Ms Khan concluded by saying that the EAT had made it perfectly clear that Mr Kocur and the other claimants were to be treated in the same way as Royal Mail staff. Perhaps Royal Mail and Angard Staffing Solutions would finally take the decision on board.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said that the company values the work and commitment of all the individuals who work in the business. Royal Mail planned on reflecting on the judgement of the EAT and would consider an appeal.


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