Beachcrofts scores historic employment tribunal victory

Beachcroft Wansbroughs is celebrating after winning the largest single test case in employment tribunal history.

The Court of Appeal decided on Friday (2 July) to uphold an earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal decision, ruling in favour of Kent & Medway Fire Authority in a claim brought by retained firefighters under the Part-time Workers Regulations 2000. The case affects over 16,000 firefighters across the UK.

The retained – or part-time – firefighters claimed that they were entitled to the same rights as full-time firefighters, believing that they carried out the same or broadly similar work. The court found that this was not the case, because full-time firefighters have more duties than their retained colleagues.

On another point, concerning the types of contract held by part-time and full-time workers, the court decided on a narrow interpretation of the regulations. This is necessary for part-time employees to be eligible for equal treatment with full-time comparators.

Nick Chronias, who led the Beachcrofts team, said that the ruling was important for all part-time workers and their employers. He told The Lawyer: “It may cause part-time workers to look again at their situation and see if they’re getting fair treatment.”

Beachcrofts instructed John Bowers QC of Littleton Chambers. Richard Arthur of Thompsons Solicitors instructed Brian Langstaff QC and Martin Seaward, both from Cloisters Chambers, for the firefighters.