In the Employment Appeal Tribunal of Coles v Ministry of Defence, it was confirmed that agency workers rights differ from permanent staff.   The EAT ruled that agency workers were not entitled to equal status with comparable permanent staff when it comes to applying for a vacancy.

Mr Coles was an agency worker, working as a technical liaison officer under arrangements made between Giant Parkhouse Limited and Building Recruitment Company Limited. Building Recruitment Company was an agency worker company that supplied a department of the MOD with services to provide estate management for RAF services personnel and service families living accommodation.

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In 2013, 530 MOD employees were placed into a redeployment pool as a result of a substantial restructuring of the MOD. The employees in this pool had priority consideration for vacancies in the MOD at their existing grade.

One of the posts available was an Estate Manager role (the role that Mr Coles had been carrying out). This vacancy would have been visible to any internal candidate wishing to be considered. The Employment Tribunal found that the role would have been visible to Mr Coles had he looked for it.

A permanent employee in the redeployment pool was successful in her application whereas the claimant did not apply. Due to this role being filled by the permanent employee, Mr Coles was no longer needed and was handed his notice.

Mr Coles’ claim alleged that the MOD had breached Regulation 13 of the AWR by failing to allow him access to the details of the vacancy and denying him the opportunity to apply. His claim was dismissed and he appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The EAT dismissed this appeal.

The EAT held that in this case permanent members of staff were given priority of vacancies out of respect of those being redeployed. The employee was part of the MOD restructure and was therefore given priority as part of that process.

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