Part-timers in Civil Service `lose job rights'

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Indy Politics
An internal Department of Employment memo, leaked to a Labour MP, reveals that the Government's own personnel officers have been told to avoid giving employment rights to temporary workers.

The personnel notice, which was issued last month and marked "Destroy 31 July 1995", instructs managers in the Employment Service to make sure that "all potential recruits are asked for details of any previous employment in the Civil Service over at least the last two to three years before being offered a position".

If this is not done, the document explains, "we might later find that the individual has already worked for up to two years and might now be in the position of having enough service to qualify for a wide range of employment rights".

The document, which was obtained by Richard Burden, the MP for Birmingham Northfield, goes on to say that managers must avoid putting their temporary employees "in the position of having the right to claim unfair dismissal" at the end of their appointment.

At present, employees become entitled to employment rights, including the right not to be "unfairly" dismissed, after two years' service.

The document says that "in no circumstances" should the appointments of temporary workers "exceed the maximum limit of 103 weeks".

Mr Burden last night wrote to Michael Portillo, the Secretary of State for Employment, stating: "More than anyone else, your department should be setting a good example to employers up and down the country. Instead, you seem intent on attacking employees' rights."

A spokesman for the Employment Service said that the notice had been issued as a "reminder of Civil Service practice" and followed guidance from the Civil Service Commissioners - this applied to all departments.

The document itself declares that temporary appointments have been "abused by a number of departments", by being extended.

This had bypassed the rules that insist on "fair and open competition" for permanent Civil Service jobs.

Since November last year, new temporary staff in the Employment Service have been put on one week's notice, reduced from two weeks, the document also reveals.