Local Government Employment Review: Full-time employees lawfully given priority over agency temp

Temporary agency workers are entitled to be treated in the same way as permanent staff.

However, in an important decision, a tribunal has ruled that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) did nothing wrong when it gave priority to its full-time employees when considering applicants for a position.

A temporary technical liaison officer worked for the estate management arm of the MoD at a time when a substantial restructuring was underway. More than 500 directly employed staff had been warned of possible redundancy but had been placed in a pool of those awaiting redeployment to other roles.

Full-time employees in the pool were given priority when applying for the post that was currently filled by the agency worker but which was to be made permanent. He argued that that amounted to a breach of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010. His claim was, however, rejected by an Employment Tribunal.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal accepted that he was entitled to be informed of vacant posts in the permanent workforce. However, in rejecting his appeal, it found that the Regulations afforded him neither a right to a guaranteed interview nor to any preference over direct employees. The priority granted to those in the redeployment pool could not be said to be a breach of his rights.

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