Unite has won a case on behalf of forty workers employed by a recruitment agency (Templink) and engaged by Serco on Sandwell council’s outsourced refuse collection contract, securing substantial backpay for the workers. The case centres around equal pay, and the workers had been engaged for up to two years and were being paid at a lower rate than permanent staff. This seems to be a straight forward case of not adhering to the AWR which requires agency workers who are engaged for 12 weeks or more to receive equal treatment to comparators employees at the same client. It is important to note that AWR is not purely about pay rates, although that is the main element of Unite’s victory.
The forty workers in this case will now receive back pay of between £2,000 and £7,000, and Unite is working to ensure the money is paid before Christmas. In addition to the back pay, the workers will also receive a substantial increase in their hourly rate, with drivers receiving an extra £2.29 per hour and loaders will receive an increase of £1.70 per hour.
This case reiterates the importance of ensuring compliance with AWR, particularly as there have been a few similar cases in the last couple of years. The supply chain needs to work together to ensure that agency workers are treated fairly and properly, in accordance with the legal protections that come with their status.