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Law: Casual workers gain service for employment rights even when not working

Motor traders need to be aware of this case (St Ives Plymouth Ltd v Haggerty) which could have wide implications for staff employed on a causal basis eg drivers/valeters etc.

The particular case was in a different work environment but the company used, in order of preference, permanent, then casual, then agency workers.

There was no obligation on the employer to give work, but they preferred to use regular casual workers as they are already skilled.

Equally there was no obligation on the casual workers to attend for work if they had other commitments.

If a casual worker persistently failed to work then they would be taken off the ‘list’ but equally there was a reasonably regular offer of work since, in the absence of work the casual workers would go elsewhere.

On one occasion Mrs Haggerty had an altercation with another member of staff, and was dismissed.

She claimed unfair dismissal and the question was raised as to her length of service to establish whether she had been employed a year or more.

She won the day and it was held that there was a sufficient ‘mutuality of obligations’ in the gaps when there was no work to perform to infer the existence of an umbrella or overarching contract.

Lawgistics advice is to look carefully at how you treat casual workers and in particular consider how long they have been available for work with you before being hasty about unfairly dismissing them.

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