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OUTSOURCED WORKERS' RIGHTS THREAT

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The government's definition of an employee contained in the Fairness at Work White Paper could mean that contract c...
The government's definition of an employee contained in the Fairness at Work White Paper could mean that contract cleaners and other non-staff maintenance and technical personnel may soon be able to sue for unfair dismissal.

The Times (p44) reports that the white paper, which puts forward proposals to improve employee working conditions, defines an employee as anyone who works for someone else 'regardless of whether or not they are strictly employed under a contract of employment'.

The wide definition has been welcomed by trade unions that have campaigned against the creation of a growing army of 'virtual employees' who staff everything from the canteen to the IT unit but never acquire the status and rights of full-time workers.

Employers are fearful thay a future change in the law could expose them to litigation and expensive claims from staff no longer on their payrolls.

Nick Moore, a partner in the Osborne Clarke firm of solicitors, said: 'It could radically transform the whole basis of UK employment legislation. Taken to its logical conclusion a contract cleaner who comes into an office every day could sue his place of work, rather than the contractor, for unfair dismissal.'
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