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18 November 2018
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Think Tank: Would a joint employment law help or hinder FM?

29 November 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is filing a landmark test case against the University of London that could broaden the trade union rights of outsourced workers. 

The IWGB will argue that outsourced workers – including receptionists, security officers and porters, working at the University of London but technically employed through facilities management company Cordant Security – have the right to collectively bargain over pay and conditions directly with the university. Denying these workers the right to collectively bargain with their de facto employer is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the union will argue. The case is being filed before the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).


The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer. While there is a month or two before the case will begin, the union will be arguing for a joint employment outcome – a similar law to that which exists in America.  It would mean having a law recognise that the de facto employer is the one calling the shots on pay and conditions and should be considered a joint employer alongside the contractor.

If successful, this test case would open the doors for workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de facto employer as well as their direct employer - and the impact of this on facilities management contractors could be huge. It would bring into focus the need to treat workers better, pay them well but also to keep company costs on an even keel and make a decent profit. All this while the sector deals with other challenges including the uncertainty around Brexit as well as the National Living Wage.

Is this a move in the right direction for the sector? Could FM be the sector that kickstarts a rewriting of the social contract with businesses and the duties of corporations? Or is it another burden for a sector that already has so much to contend with? 

This month, we ask you: is a joint employment law a good idea?

a) yes - joint employment is the right move to progress the sector

b) no - joint employment will be a burden for the sector

As ever, we welcome your views on all of the above. Please click here to take part in the survey.


If you have any extra comments email us here newsdesk@fm-world.co.uk after voting.