Part-Time Workers Win Full-Time Rights; 'CASUAL' PAY VICTORY BUT IT SPARKS FEARS OF REDUNDANCIES

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Byline: SEAN POULTER

HUGE numbers of casual workers have won the right to sick pay, holiday pay, maternity leave and other benefits.

A Court of Appeal ruling means that people who work part-time for an employer but do not have a formal contract will now be treated the same as other staff.

The case was brought by the GMB union which said the decision would have a major impact on the lives of working women in particular.

The changes also mean that casual workers are covered by the Employment Protection Act and can claim unfair dismissal at an industrial tribunal.

The union claimed that millions of regular casual workers would benefit from the decision. While others challenged that figure, it will certainly change the rules governing hundreds of thousands.

The decision upset employers who rely on a pool of casual workers they can call on when the company is under pressure to get orders out quickly.

These workers have been a source of cheap labour which has allowed firms to be flexible and match staff to the workload.

Now the cost of having regular casual staff is about to soar, something which could potentially cause unemployment and lead existing full-time staff to work longer hours and do more overtime.

Under the ruling, casual workers who, for instance, normally do three days a week, would be entitled to sick pay covering that time when they ill. They would also qualify for maternity leave at pro-rata pay, plus holiday pay in proportion to the time off enjoyed by full-time staff.

The groundbreaking change arose from a union-backed appeal by Heather Carmichael, 35, and Janet Leese, 36, who were paid by the hour to work as guides showing parties around power stations in North-East England. …