Outsourced workers at the University of London have launched a landmark legal challenge over pay and the conditions under which they work, in a case that could change the lives of outsourced workers across a slew of industries nationwide.
The Independent Worker’s Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have filed a claim with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for what is being called a landmark test case for a group of 75 receptionists, security officers and porters, who work at the University of London, but are technically employed through a facilities management company.
Many large organisations pay facilities companies to provide workers who are often low paid, such as cleaners or security guards. It allows them to control the way people work, determining their pay and conditions, whilst avoiding many of the legal responsibilities of being an employer.
The union claim argues the group of workers have the right to collectively bargain over pay and conditions directly with the university. Excluding these outsourced workers from the right to collectively bargain directly with their end employer is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The university doesn’t accept it should be a “joint employer” which will allow better entitlements for employees. The case could have an impact on 3.3 million outsourced workers in the UK.
The IWBG general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said “the most important elements of pay, and terms and conditions for the outsourced workers, it is the University of London and not [facilities management company] Cordant which calls the shots. In order for these workers’ collective barraging and human rights to mean anything, we need to be able to negotiate directly with the university, not the glorified middle man”.
A spokesperson for the University of London has stated “The university does not employ any of these workers and does not accept that the relevant legislation recognises the concept of join employment. We have therefore not agreed to the IWGB’s request for recognition”. The university also argued that extending union rights to outsourced workers would “remove the benefits of outsourcing”.
UK law has never witnessed the concept of “joint employers” for the purpose of negotiating workers’ terms and conditions. Specialise employment lawyer Daphne Romney QC has said that if the UK law does recognise this concept, “it would be enormous”. She also went on to explain “There would be about 3.3 million outsourced employees whose terms and conditions would improve, because they would be on the same terms and conditions as the people they work alongside everyday, but who are directly employed.
It’s extremely important that employers consider what outsourced workers they have and they need to discuss the implications of them. If the judgement is passed, it will impact employers because they will have to pay to improve the terms and conditions. Our HPC team will keep you updated whilst we wait for the judgement.
If you need advice or have any questions regarding outsourced workers, please contact a member of the HPC team:
T: 0844 800 5932