In the recent determination, Team Obair v Robert Costello, the Labour Court set aside a decision of the Rights Commissioner and awarded the claimant approximately €20,000. This is only the fourth decision issued under the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 and involves the highest amount awarded under the Act to date.
Costello was employed by Team Obair as a fork lift driver at Guinness, St James’s Gate, Dublin in or around March 2007. Team Obair was contracted to provide agency workers to a third party contractor, Shannon Transport Logistics (the “Hirer”). Costello was continuously employed at the plant and continues to work there. Costello contended before the Rights Commissioner that he was being paid less in terms of basic pay than that which he would have been paid had he been employed directly by the Hirer to perform the same work. The Rights Commissioner held that his claim was not well founded and Costello subsequently appealed to the Labour Court.
The Labour Court stated that the case was significant as there was potential for very serious industrial relations conflict if an employer, in the circumstances of the Hirer, were to employ workers on significantly different rates of pay to perform the same work. The decision of the Rights Commissioner was set aside, and Costello was awarded approximately €20,000 as compensation.
This case is being used as a test case and there are other similar claims to be considered in light of it. It will be interesting to track how this jurisprudence develops as more test cases are heard.