Last month's ruling of the Court of Appeal in an agency worker case is a reminder of the general principle that without some kind of contractual relationship an individual has no rights either under employment protection or discrimination legislation. In this case Mr Muschett was unable to overcome the factual decision of the employment tribunal that he had no contract of any kind either with the agency who recruited him, or with the organisation to which his labour was supplied.

Despite the headlines, this case does not mean that agency workers have no protection against discrimination. Although they will normally not have employment status, provided they have a contract "personally to execute any work or labour" with the agency, they will be protected from discrimination by the contract worker provisions. These impose liability on the end-user if it discriminates against a worker supplied under a contract between it and the agency. Agency workers' rights under discrimination law will be bolstered from October next year when they will also be entitled to the same basic terms and conditions as their permanent counterparts after a 12-week waiting period.

Click below for the full decision (Muschett v H M Prison Service).