A Court of Appeal ruling has confirmed that agency workers cannot claim the same employment rights as permanent employees, even if they have been working for a client of the agency for several years.
This means that such claims, many of which have been on hold pending the outcome of this case, will now be dismissed, according to employment experts at Eversheds in Birmingham.
The decision in the case of James v Greenwich Borough Council concerned a claim for unfair dismissal after the Council made the decision to replace the claimant with another worker supplied by the agency.
However, the Court of Appeal's ruling that the individual had no contractual relationship with the council, despite having worked there for many years and having been under its supervision at all times, meant she fell outside the job security scheme of statutory protection from unfair dismissal.
There are estimated to be more than a million agency workers in the UK, and the decision will ensure that the controversy over the absence of job protection for those who do not have an express or implied contract of employment, is kept in the spotlight.
Michael Ord, employment law partner at Eversheds in Birmingham, said: "The courts are saying that it is not their role to create employment rights for agency workers."
Eversheds hit out as agency workers from across the country lobbied MPs at Westminster, giving details of how they are treated differently to full-time staff.
They complained of lower pay rates, poorer sick pay and holiday arrangements and other "abuses".
The lobby was held at the launch of a Private Member's Bill which will be heard in the Commons on February 22.
But John Wright, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The flexibility of the UK workforce helps small businesses to produce over half this country's GDP.
"As the economy enters more challenging times it is vital that this flexibility is maintained for the benefit of both employers and agency workers."