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This article was published on October 10th, 2014
Hall v Xerox UK
Fixed term workers have their own branch of protection against discrimination. It’s there to ensure that these workers, whose contracts are set to end on a particular date, are not (without justification) treated less favourably than permanent staff.
But, as Hall v Xerox UK illustrated, differences in treatment are sometimes
beyond an employer’s control; and where that’s the case, the employer cannot be liable.
Xerox’s permanent and fixed term employees were entitled to permanent health insurance. Payments kicked in once the employee had been off work for 26 weeks because of a qualifying injury. But Xerox was only contractually bound to pay the employee if the insurer had already paid up.
Here the insurer refused cover because Mr Hall’s contract expired within the 26-week period, even though Xerox had agreed to renew it.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the tribunal’s decision that Xerox was not liable for fixed term workers discrimination. While Mr Hall had been treated less favourably than a permanent employee and that was because he was a fixed term worker, the employer wasn’t to blame. Xerox hadn’t caused the discrimination. Rather, it emanated from the insurer; it was the insurer’s decision not to pay.