Employment Cases Update

Hudson v Department for Work and Pensions UKEAT/0397/11/SM

Date published: 06/05/2012

Appeal against a refusal by the ET to make a declaration that the claimant was permanently employed. Appeal allowed.

The claimant was employed under a fixed-term contract of employment. There were subsequent fixed-term contracts or extensions to that initial contract, and after 4 years employment with the respondent, the claimant applied to the Employment Tribunals Service for a declaration under Regulation 9(5) that pursuant to Regulation 8 she was now a permanent employee of the respondent. The respondent resisted the claim for a declaration on the basis that the fixed-term employment(s) between April 2006 and the commencement of the present fixed-term contract of employment fell to be excluded when calculating the relevant four?year period.  The respondent's case was that the employment during that period fell within the exclusion contained in Regulation 18.  More particularly, the respondent's case was that the earlier periods of fixed-term employment had been designed to provide the claimant with training or work experience for the purpose of assisting her to obtain or seek work under arrangements made by the Government: regulation 18(1)(a). The Employment Tribunal Judge held that as Regulation 18 provided that the Regulations did not apply to employments of the type described in Regulation 18, such periods of employment could not be used to accumulate the qualifying period. The claimant appealed.

The EAT upheld her appeal. On a true construction, Regulation 18 was concerned only to exclude the application of the regulations to employees presently employed under a contract to which that regulation applied.  The employee's current contract was not caught by Regulation 18 and nothing in Regulation 8 disqualified the employee from relying on past employment which would have been within Regulation 18. The matter was remitted to the Employment Tribunal to determine whether the employer in this case could rely on the objective justification referred to in Regulation 8 to defeat the claim for a Regulation 9(5) declaration.
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Appeal No. UKEAT/0397/11/SM

EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL

FLEETBANK HOUSE, 2-6 SALISBURY SQUARE, LONDON EC4Y 8JX

At the Tribunal

On 10 February 2012

Judgment handed down on 3 May 2012

Before

MR RECORDER LUBA QC (SITTING ALONE)

MRS T HUDSON (APPELLANT)

THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS (RESPONDENT)

Transcript of Proceedings

JUDGMENT

APPEARANCES

For the Appellant
MS JENNY ANDREWS (Representative)

a2emc Ltd
63 Aldin Way
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 0GE

For the Respondent
MR ADAM FARRER (of Counsel)

Instructed by:
Office of the Solicitor – Department for Works & Pensions
5th Floor, Adelphi
1-11 John Adam Street
London
WC2N 6HT

SUMMARY

FIXED TERM REGULATIONS

Fixed term contracts

An employee on a fixed term contract applied to the Employment Tribunal for a declaration that she was permanently employed.

She relied on previous periods of service under earlier fixed term contracts as meeting the qualifying period under Regulation 8 of the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

The employer responded that the previous periods could not count as they fell within the exclusion from the regulations of certain types of employment under Government schemes as contained in Regulation 18.

The Employment Tribunal Judge held that as Regulation 18 provided that the Regulations did not apply to employments of the type described in Regulation 18, such periods of employment could not be used to accumulate the qualifying period.

Appeal allowed.

On a true construction, Regulation 18 was concerned only to exclude the application of the regulations to employees presently employed under a contract to which that regulation applied.

The employee's current contract was not caught by Regulation 18 and nothing in Regulation 8 disqualified the employee from relying on past employment which would have been within Regulation 18.

MR RECORDER LUBA QC

Introduction

1. This case is about the proper application of the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002. Part 2 of those Regulations, headed "Rights and Remedies", confers statutory rights and access to legal remedies on certain fixed-term employees. Among those rights is that contained in Regulation 8(1), enabling an employee employed under a fixed-term contract to be treated as though they were permanently employed. The corresponding remedy, contained in Regulation 9(5), is a declaration available from an Employment Tribunal where an employee can show that the conditions of Regulation 8 are satisfied.

2. In this case, the Appellant is an employee of the Respondent - the Department for Work and Pensions - under a fixed-term contract of employment. She believed that she fulfilled the conditions of Regulation 8 of the Regulations and, accordingly, applied for a declaration from the Employment Tribunal pursuant to Regulation 9(5).

3. Following a hearing in Birmingham on 22 February 2010, Employment Judge Gaskell, sitting alone, determined that the conditions contained in Regulation 8 of the Regulations were not in fact satisfied, and he refused a declaration. That decision was sent to the parties on 7 April 2011. From that Judgment the Appellant appeals to this Appeal Tribunal, contending that the Employment Judge erred in law.

The Regulations

4. The Regulations were made on 30 July 2002 by the Secretary of State in what was then the Department of Trade and Industry. Part of their intended effect was to implement EU Council Directive 1999/70/EC in Great Britain. The Directive is usually referred to as the 'Fixed-term Work Directive'. The Regulations were made in exercise of the statutory powers conferred on the Secretary of State by sections 45 and 51(1) of the Employment Act 2002.

5. Before coming to the terms of the Regulations it is apt to note the extent of the Secretary of State's regulation making powers as described in sections 45(1) 45(2). They provide:

"45(1) The Secretary of State shall make Regulations—

(a) for the purpose of securing that employees in fixed-term employment are treated, for such purposes and to such extent as the regulations may specify, no less favourably than employees in permanent employment, and

(b) for the purpose of preventing abuse arising from the use of successive periods of fixed-term employment.

(2) The Regulations may—

(a) specify classes of employee who are to be taken to be, or not to be, in fixed-term employment; […]

(f) make provision which has effect in relation to employees in fixed-term employment generally or provision which has effect only in relation to specified classes of employee in fixed-term employment."

6. Section 51 of the 2002 Act requires that the Secretary of State lay a draft of the Regulations to be made under section 45 before Parliament, and that the Regulations must be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

7. The Regulations as made are divided into five Parts. It is only necessary for the purposes of this Judgment to extract Regulation 8 from Part 2 ('Rights and Remedies') and Regulation 18 from Part 5 ('Exclusions'). Regulation 8 provides:

"8. Successive fixed-term contracts

(1) This regulation applies where -

(a) an employee is employed under a contract purporting to be a fixed-term contract, and

(b) the contract mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) has previously been renewed, or the employee has previously been employed on a fixed-term contract before the start of the contract mentioned in sub-paragraph (a).

(2) Where this regulation applies then, with effect from the date specified in paragraph (3), the provision of the contract mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) that restricts the duration of the contract shall be of no effect, and the employee shall be a permanent employee, if –

(a) the employee has been continuously employed under the contract mentioned in paragraph 1(a), or under that contract taken with a previous fixed-term contract, for a period of four years or more, and

(b) the employment of the employee under a fixed-term contract was not justified on objective grounds –

(i) where the contract mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) has been renewed, at the time when it was last renewed;

(ii) where that contract has not been renewed, at the time when it was entered into.

(3) The date referred to in paragraph (2) is whichever is the later of –

(a) the date on which the contract mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) was entered into or last renewed, and

(b) the date on which the employee acquired four years' continuous employment.

(4) …."

8. Regulation 18 provides:

"18. Government training schemes etc

(1) These Regulations shall not have effect in relation to a fixed-term employee who is employed on a scheme, designed to provide him with training or work experience for the purpose of assisting him to seek or obtain work, which is either -

(a) provided to him under arrangements made by the Government, or

(b) funded in whole or part by an Institution of the European Community.

(2) These Regulations shall not have effect in relation to a fixed-term employee whose employment consists in attending a period of work experience not exceeding one year that he is required to attend as part of a higher education course.

(3) …"

9. Between the date of hearing in this case before the Employment Judge and the date of delivery of his Judgment, the Supreme Court decided the case of Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families v Fletcher [2011] UKSC 14, [2011] ICR 495. That decision deals with the extent to which an employer might be able to objectively justify the use of a fixed-term contract of employment for the purposes of Regulation 8(2)(b). However, in the course of her judgment, Baroness Hale of Richmond describes the purpose and function of the 2002 Regulations and of the Fixed-term Work Directive from which they spring. She says at paragraph [9]:

"It is important to understand that the fixed-term Directive is not directed against fixed-term contracts as such. It has two more specific aims, set out in recital (14):

'The signatory parties have demonstrated their desire to improve the quality of fixed-term work by ensuring the application of the principle of non discrimination and to establish a framework to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships."

10. As Baroness Hale points out at paragraph [10], the terms of the Fixed-term Work Directive do not:

"[…] attempt to define the circumstances in which fixed-term employment is acceptable. Instead they concentrate on preventing or limiting the abuse of successive fixed-term contracts, the abuse being to disguise what is effectively an indefinite employment as a series of fixed-term contracts, thus potentially avoiding the benefits and protections available in indefinite employment."

11. In paragraph [23 she says:

"Employing people on single fixed-term contracts does not offend against either the Directive or the Regulations."

This case

12. Against the background of that brief introduction and reference to the relevant provisions of the Regulations I come to the circumstances of the instant case. The Appellant first began to work for the Department for Work and Pensions in April 2006. Her employment was under a fixed-term contract. There were subsequent fixed-term contracts or extensions to that initial contract. Her latest fixed-term contract commenced on 19 October 2009.

13. In 2010 she applied to the Employment Tribunals Service for a declaration under Regulation 9(5) that pursuant to Regulation 8 she was now a permanent employee of the Respondent, having completed the four year period of service referred to in Regulation 8(2)(a). The Respondent resisted the claim for a declaration on the basis that the fixed-term employment(s) between April 2006 and the commencement of the present fixed-term contract of employment fell to be excluded when calculating the relevant four year period. The Respondent's case was that the employment during that period fell within the exclusion contained in Regulation 18. More particularly, the Respondent's case was that the earlier periods of fixed-term employment had been designed to provide the Appellant with training or work experience for the purpose of assisting her to obtain or seek work under arrangements made by the Government: regulation 18(1)(a).

14. The Employment Tribunal Judge conducted a Pre Hearing Review. He put to one side the question of whether there might be an objective justification for the current use of a fixed-term contract for the purposes of Regulation 8(2)(b). Instead, he determined, as preliminary issues, three matters.

(1) whether the Appellant could rely on Regulation 8 even if the previous periods for which she had been a fixed-term employee were within Regulation 18;

(2) whether the previous periods of employment had in fact been covered by the exception in Regulation 18 because that had been employment under 'a Government scheme'.

(3) whether, even if the context was one of a Government scheme, the Appellant had as a matter of fact been 'employed' under such a scheme of the relevant description in the years prior to her current fixed-term employment.

He decided them all adversely to the Appellant and this appeal is pursued in respect of each of his conclusions. I shall seek to deal with those same three issues in turn by describing the contentions of the parties, the decision of the Judge and the reasons that have lead me to my own conclusions.

The first issue

15. The Appellant's case is, and has throughout been, that as a matter of simple construction of the relevant Regulations she satisfies the conditions of Regulation 8 and is therefore (subject to any determination of objective justification) entitled to the declaration sought. Thus her case, as advanced by Ms Andrews on her behalf, was that she met the conditions specified in Regulation 8(1) in that she was (i) an employee, (ii) employed under a contract purporting to be a fixed-term contract, and (iii) she had been previously employed on a fixed-term contract before the start of the current contract.

16. The Respondent, represented before me by Mr Adam Farrer of counsel, contended that the effect of Regulation 18 of the Regulations was that an employee could not rely on previous periods of employment under fixed-term contracts if those contracts could themselves, or did themselves, fall within the terms of Regulation 18.

17. The same arguments had been advanced to the Employment Tribunal Judge. In relation to them he said this:

"9.1 Regulation 18 states that the Regulations shall not have effect in relation to a fixed term employees [sic] employed on an excluded scheme. There is, in my judgement, no basis to conclude that this amounts to anything other than a wholesale exclusion of such employees including the exclusion of rights which might otherwise be accruing during the first four years of employment. […] I therefore conclude that if the Appellant's employment between April 2006 and October 2009 was subject to the Regulation 18 exclusion then her time service for the purposes of Regulation 8 would not commence until 19 October 2009"

18. In her appeal to this Appeal Tribunal, the Appellant contends that the Employment Tribunal Judge has there misconstrued the Regulations. Her case is that the 'ouster' provision in Regulation 18 is not addressed to whether or not an employee can rely on particular types of previous fixed-term employment contract but as to the circumstances of the applicant employee in relation to their current contract of employment. In summary, the argument advanced by Ms Andrews is to the following effect:

(1) Regulation 18 is the first of three regulations in Part 5, which is headed "Exclusions". In any statutory provision expressly conferring rights and remedies, the scope of any regulations containing exclusions ought to be narrowly defined.

(2) Regulation 18(1) stipulates that "the Regulation shall not have effect" in relation to, "a fixed-term employee who is employed on a scheme […] which is either..." On a natural construction of the language, the use of present tense by the emphasised words shows that the terms of Regulation 18 are concerned with, and only addressed to the applicability of the Regulations in relation to, a current fixed-term employee.

(3) The exclusion in Regulation 18 does therefore not apply to the exercise of satisfying the conditions in Regulation 8(1)(b), which is concerned with previous employment that the employee has had on past fixed-term contracts.

(4) Had the contrary been the intention of the Regulations, one would have expected to see inserted into Regulation 8(1)(b) after the words "…fixed-term contract…" the additional words, "(save a contract to which Regulation 18 applies)" or similar words.

19. In answer to that submission Mr Farrer relied on the generality of the opening words of Regulation 18, namely, "These Regulations shall not have effect […]". He argued that those words were apt to disqualify reliance on a contract of the type described in Regulation 18 for all purposes connected with the Regulations and thus it applied whether one was addressing the current fixed-term contract of employment or any previous such fixed-term contract(s) of employment. Further, adopting the argument that had been advanced before the Employment Judge, he suggested that any other construction of Regulation 18 would lead to absurdity, i.e. that an employer who had provided to an employee a succession of fixed-term contracts covered by Regulation 18 could find themselves trapped by the impact of Regulation 8 on the very first day of a further fixed-term contract of employment itself not covered by Regulation 18, if the qualifying period had by then been satisfied.

20. It is this latter argument - based on anomaly - that persuaded the Employment Tribunal Judge to uphold the Respondent's contentions on this first issue. There was advanced before the Employment Judge (see his judgment at 8.2) the hypothetical case of "an employee working on a government scheme falling within Regulation 18 where the employee is employed for five whole years under fixed-term contracts but is excluded from the benefit of the Regulations but, if with the same employer, would on the first day of the sixth year employed on a fixed-term contract which was not excluded by Regulation 18 immediately become a permanent employee". At paragraph 9(1) of his Judgment the Tribunal Judge says of the submission based on that illustration:

"I accept the respondent's submission that to find otherwise produces an absurd result and one which would be a positive disincentive to employers to offer ongoing employment to employees whose initial employment was under the terms of an excluded fixed term contract."

21. For my part I was not persuaded that the proper construction of the statutory instrument should turn on the question of whether or not the Regulation might produce unusual or what some might describe as "absurd" results. The proper approach, in my judgment, is to look at the words that have been used by the Secretary of State in the particular Regulations in the context of the Regulations as a whole and in the context of the Directive that they were intended to give effect to. If on the application of well established principles of construction they produce a result which in some circumstances might be described as unusual or anomalous that result can, if considered appropriate, be dealt with by amending the regulations.

22. At the hearing before me on 10 February 2012 there was conspicuously little material that could provide an aid to the proper construction of the statutory instrument. That was notwithstanding the fact that the Respondent was itself a Government Department, which one might assume would be well placed to put before an Appeal Tribunal the relevant background materials that might assist on issues of construction. I was provided with a copy of the relevant Council Directive, but not with any authorities touching on the proper construction of Regulation 8 or Regulation 18 beyond the Supreme Court decision that I have mentioned at the outset of this Judgment. That was particularly surprising because, as the Explanatory Notes to the Regulations indicated, a Transposition Note explaining how the Regulations give effect to the Directive had been placed in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament - presumably at the same time that the Regulations were laid. Further, there appeared to have been resolutions of each House approving the Regulations in respect of which there may have been relevant debates. Yet further, the Department promoting the Regulations had published a Regulatory Impact Assessment of the costs and benefits that would result from the Regulations, which again had been placed in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament. Unable to assist me in respect of any of those matters, Mr Farrer made an application at the hearing for permission to introduce those materials on the appeal once they had been traced. I gave permission for such material to be adduced after the hearing and for each party to make written submissions upon that material. I received those written submissions and a significant quantity of additional material from the parties in early March 2012.

23. The new materials did not contain any ministerial statement or the terms of any parliamentary debate in relation to the resolutions approving the Regulations in 2002. They did include the Transposition Note and the Regulatory Impact Assessment as well as the various documents relating the consultation exercise undertaken on the content of the regulations. Ms Andrews' written submissions suggested that this was a partial or selective disclosure of material by the Respondent. I see nothing to support that suggestion and I reject it.

24. In the event, the material that was produced did not provide a positive or conclusive indicator one way or the other as to the true construction of the Regulations. I accept Ms Andrews' submission that if they help the arguments of either party they are more supportive of the case for the Appellant. For example, the second page of the Transposition Note explains that one 'purpose' was "…to exclude …those employed on initial vocational training schemes…" etc. and that 'implementation' of that purpose is achieved by excluding "…a fixed-term employee who is participating in a scheme". The emphasis is my own.

25. With very limited help from the additional materials, I am therefore driven back to the words used in the Regulations themselves.

26. In my judgment, the contentions made by the Appellant are compelling as to the proper construction of the Regulations. It seems to me that it is the right approach that exclusions should be construed narrowly. I am satisfied that the wording of Regulation 18(1) is concerned with the present circumstances of the employee. That is to say, their circumstances in relation to the fixed-term contract under which they are presently employed. The wording of the exclusion in Regulation 18, which bears reference to a fixed-term employee who is employed under a scheme, may be contrasted with the wording of the other two exclusions in Regulations 19 and 20, which provide that those two exclusions shall not have effect "…in relation to employment under a fixed-term contract where the employee is…". Despite the used of the present tense word "is" in both Regulations 19 and 20, the reference in the terminology to "employment" seems to me more general than the specific reference in the words of Regulation 18(1). Further, had it been the intention of the draughtsman that the exclusion in Regulation 18 should apply not only to the current fixed-term contract of employment but also to earlier fixed-term contracts of employment, it would have been quite straightforward for Regulation 8 to have specifically provided that the previous fixed-term contracts referred to in that sub Regulation did not include fixed-term contracts such as those covered by Regulation 18.

27. For all those reasons, I must respectfully disagree with the construction adopted by the learned Employment Judge. The correct answer to the first of the issues in this case is in my judgment that the employee did not presently hold a contract of employment captured by Regulation 18 and that nothing in Regulation 8 prevented her from relying on previous periods of employment - that would have been captured by Regulation 18 - for the purposes of obtaining the right contained in Regulation 8.

28. That finding is determinative of the present appeal. The result is that the appeal will be allowed and the matter remitted to the Employment Tribunal to determine whether the employer in this case can rely on the objective justification referred to in Regulation 8 to defeat the claim for a Regulation 9(5) declaration.

29. It is strictly not necessary therefore for me to adjudicate upon the other two issues that were determined by the Employment Judge and in respect of which his conclusions were again challenged by the Appellant. Having heard full argument on the points, however, and conscious of the fact that the issue that I have already addressed has involved a departure from the conclusion of the original Tribunal Judge, I believe it is right that I should address them.

The second issue

30. On the assumption that Regulation 18 might apply to previous fixed-term contracts of employment held by the Appellant, the Tribunal Judge had to decide whether that employment had been:

"…on a scheme, designed to provide [her] with training or work experience for the purpose of assisting [her] to seek or obtain work, which is […] provided to [her] under arrangements made by the Government…"

31. The short point made by the Appellant before the Judge was that there was in the present case no relevant Government "scheme" that she was employed "on". The case for the Respondent was that there had indeed been a relevant scheme, and the Appellant had been employed "on" that scheme. The scheme in question was said to be the Government's 'New Deal' scheme.

32. As the Employment Tribunal Judge records, at paragraph 5.6.1 of his Judgment, there were six variants of the New Deal scheme. The one relied upon by the Respondent was the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP). The Tribunal Judge found that the Jobcentre advertisement for the post that the Appellant had initially obtained had stated that the vacancy was "New Deal" only, and that the letter offering her the position in June 2006 had stated, "I am writing to offer you a New Deal fixed term appointment". The simple case advanced for the Appellant before the Judge was that whatever the other five variants of the New Deal scheme offered the NDDP did not offer 'employment'; rather, it offered a facility to assist disabled people to seek and prospectively obtain employment. The Appellant relied on an extract from a booklet giving key facts about the New Deal scheme, which described the NDDP in this way:

"New Deal for Disabled People

is a voluntary programme for disabled customers currently receiving a qualifying benefit:

* Customers are offered a meeting with a personal adviser trained in disability related issues, who can help with referrals to suitable vacancies if appropriate.

* They are also given details of externally provided Job Brokers locally, who are contracted to deliver an ongoing personal service to interested customers."

33. Thus, Ms Andrews had submitted for the Appellant, NDDP does not have or feature a scheme of 'employment', but rather is a scheme for the introduction of disabled people to employment through suitable vacancies or through the assistance of an employment broker.

34. As indicated, the Respondent's case advanced to the Judge, as reflected not least in its grounds of resistance to the Appellant's claim, was that the Appellant had been employed "…on the New Deal for Disabled People scheme".

35. The Employment Tribunal Judge resolved the issue between the parties in this way:

"9.2 As to whether NDDP is an excluded scheme, I agree with the respondent's submission that the Appellant has confused the services offered by the respondent to its customers with the respondent's employment scheme for New Deal applicants. It is clear that the respondent offered employment on special terms for New Deal applicants at least in so far as recruitment requirements were concerned. This provided such applicants with an advantage at the recruitment stage. The fact that the respondent is a government department and that the Civil Service Commissioners had granted a recruitment exemption for the respondent and for other government departments is sufficient in my judgement to bring the scheme within Regulation 18 provided scheme is designed is required by Regulation 18 to provide the employee with training or work experience for the purpose of assisting him to seek or obtain work."

36. The submission of Ms Andrews for the Appellant is that the Tribunal Judge is there reaching an impermissible conclusion that the relevant employment in this case was pursuant to a hybrid scheme designed by the Civil Service Commissioners for those employed in Government Departments. The Respondent urges that that is to misconstrue paragraph 9.2, and that the Employment Tribunal Judge was in fact upholding its contention that the Appellant had been employed on the NDDP scheme. It points, in particular, to the later use of the phrase "her years as a New Deal employee" in paragraph 9.3 of the Judgment.

37. I am quite satisfied that the Judge was indeed, as asserted by the Appellant, identifying a hybrid scheme that was not the published Government scheme "New Deal for Disabled People" for the general public but was in fact an internal departmental scheme designed for Government Departments by the Civil Service Commissioners, it was not itself one of the six variants of the public or national New Deal scheme but was a scheme that that would provide employment in the civil service for those who were otherwise eligible for the normal or ordinary NDDP scheme(s).

38. Ms Andrews submits that finding that the Appellant was employed on a hybrid scheme - that was not the scheme expressly advanced by the Respondent - was not permissibly open to the Employment Tribunal Judge. I cannot accept that submission. It seems to me that the Judge was entitled, and indeed required, to find the exact nature of any scheme that the relevant employee was "on" for the purposes of applying the regulations. It was immaterial whether the Appellant believed she was or was not on such a scheme or whether the Respondent believed that the employee was on a particular scheme rather than a different scheme.

39. Ms Andrews is on stronger ground in criticising that passage in paragraph 7.2 of the Judgment in which the Judge says, "[w]hat matters is that the Appellant was eligible for NDDP". Had he there been directing himself that the question of whether a person was "on" a scheme was to be determined by whether they were "eligible" for such a scheme, that would have amounted to an error of law. However, the passage taken in context indicates that he was only there describing that it was necessary to be eligible for the NDDP scheme in order to obtain the advantages of the Civil Service Commission's own hybrid employment scheme for those employees who would meet the eligibility threshold for the NDDP itself. Ms Andrews is right to draw attention to the fact that the existence of the hybrid scheme was no part of the Respondent's case as advanced at the Tribunal. That is correct, but it does not amount to an error of law on the part of an Employment Tribunal Judge to find that the scheme is a different arrangement from that which either of the parties believed it to be.

40. Ms Andrews next submits that the conclusion of the Employment Tribunal Judge was impermissible because the hybrid scheme was not in itself a "scheme" for the purposes of Regulation 18. Ms Andrews asserts that many employers, in both the private and public sector as, may give certain advantages to persons who would be eligible for the New Deal schemes in the selection and recruitment exercises for what are ordinary employments. She submits, rightly in my judgment, that the simple fact that eligibility for the New Deal scheme is established does not show that subsequently the employee is "on" such a scheme. She suggests that it is impermissible for the Regulations to be construed so that Regulation 18 excludes from the benefit of Regulation 8 a person who by happenchance is introduced to employment with the Government through the portal of New Deal eligibility when a person being introduced to employment in the private sector would not be similarly excluded.

41. It seems to me that the crucial distinction is this. The Employment Tribunal Judge has found as a matter of fact that there was in existence a special departmental scheme of making employment available to those who were eligible for the New Deal, even if the particular variant of New Deal scheme itself (NDDP) would not have normally involved employment. That is a finding of fact that I can no more go behind than can the Appellant to this appeal. It is not a mere happenchance that the scheme in question is a Government scheme. The Civil Service Commissioners have designed such a scheme to be applicable across all Government Departments. That recognises the special position of the Government in relation to facilitating the engagement in employment and work experience of those who are without employment and in vulnerable circumstances. Ms Andrews suggests that this is inconsistent with the thrust of the Directive, which includes at Clause 2(2) of the Framework Agreement:

"Member States after consultation with the social partners and/or the social partners may provide that this scheme does not apply to:

[…] (b) employment contracts and relationships which have been concluded within the framework of a specific public or publicly supported training, integration and vocational retraining programme."

42. Her contention was that even the hybrid scheme identified by the Judge was not a "…public or publicly supported training, integration and vocational retraining programme". She makes that submission on the basis that the only schemes contemplated by Clause 2(2)(b) of the Framework Agreement were those providing training, integration and vocational retraining as part of a programme. She submits that the hybrid scheme identified by the Employment Tribunal Judge was not a scheme that fulfilled all of those component ingredients. I am not able to accept that submission. Regulation 18 has been included in the 2002 Regulations to give effect in Great Britain to Clause 2(2)(b). It is plain from the Judge's findings of fact that the hybrid scheme offered in this particular context is a scheme that meets the requirements of Regulation 18, and therefore no further recourse to the Framework Directive is required or necessary.

The third issue

43. Assuming again that Regulation 18 has some application to the previous fixed-term contracts of employment under which the Appellant was engaged (contrary to my finding on the issue), the last questions for the Employment Tribunal Judge were whether the scheme he had found was one under which the Appellant was employed "…for the purpose of assisting [her] to seek or obtain work.." and whether that that employment "…was designed to provide [her] with training or work experience…": Regulation 18(1).

44. Put shortly, the Appellant's case before the Judge was that she had been recruited through the portal of the Civil Service Commission's hybrid scheme (if the Judge's finding as to that be right), but that the effect had been not to produce any training or work experience for her but simply to deploy her doing the same work as others who had not been eligible for the NDDP scheme. As to that contention, the Employment Tribunal Judge's reasons and conclusions were as follows:

"9.3 It is accepted by the respondent that the Appellant, from the outset, undertook the full range of duties of a First Contact Officer working alongside colleagues who had been recruited in open competition. But the Appellant's submission that therefore the scheme was not designed to provide her with training or work experience is flawed. It was precisely intended to provide her with work experience; she was recruited into the role without having to compete in the open labour market but having successfully obtained employment she was then better able so to compete once she had built up a track record of punctuality, reliability, capability and so on and she was able to provide up to date references when later seeking employment in open competition. The benefits gained during her years as a New Deal employee appeared to be recognised by the Appellant […]."

45. The Appellant's case before me was that the Employment Tribunal Judge was not entitled to reach those conclusions. Since the NDDP had at best been a portal through which the Appellant entered into employment with the Respondent, the fact that she had entered through such a portal did not mean that the employment she thereafter undertook was for training or work experience, or was intended to provide training or work experience. The fact was that once she was in employment the Appellant carried out exactly the same work as any other employee, whether recruited through the portal or otherwise.

46. It does not appear to have been in dispute that no special training was provided, so that the only way in which the requirements of Regulation 18 could be satisfied would be if the employment in question had been designed to provide the Appellant with "work experience". Ms Andrews submitted that this term meant something more than the simple provision of work; in particular, she suggested that the phrase "work experience" introduced a notion of a programme of work specifically designed to provide an individual with a structured introduction to the world of work. It did not simply mean "experience in work", which could be gained by any employee simply by dint of the fact of being employed. Ms Andrews submitted that the Tribunal Judge had erred in law in taking too broad an approach to "work experience" and simply treating it as the benefit of actual employment that an individual received.

47. Attractively as these submissions were put, in my judgment, there was no error of law by the Employment Judge in this regard. It was for him to find, as fact, whether the particular employment provided met the terms of Regulation 18. For the reasons that he gave, and which I have set out above, he decided that the particular nature of the benefit derived from the Civil Service Commissioners' special scheme for these prospective Government Department employees could be contrasted with the ordinary experience of being in the world of work. I am satisfied that that was a conclusion open to him on the factual material that was advanced before him. Nothing in the measured and well presented submissions of Ms Andrews has persuaded me of any error in this respect.

Conclusion

48. It follows that I reject the criticism of the Employment Tribunal Judge's conclusions on the second and third of the issues argued before him. They seem to me to turn largely on findings of fact that were findings for the Employment Tribunal Judge, rather than this Appeal Tribunal, to make.

49. However, the determinative issue in this case is the first issue. That is an issue of pure construction of the relevant statutory instrument. For the reasons I have given, I am satisfied that the Employment Tribunal Judge's construction of the relevant Regulations was not one open to him. It follows that the appeal will be allowed in respect of the first issue, and I will direct that this matter be remitted to an Employment Tribunal to determine whether or not the employer can make out the objective justification element of Regulation 8 so as to avoid the making of a declaration under Regulation 9(5).

Permission to Appeal

50. At the close of oral submissions, I was invited by both parties to consider whether, at least on the first issue, this was a case fit for the grant of permission to appeal whichever way I were to decide it. In the event, I have reached the opposite conclusion to another specialist judge on an issue of statutory construction of some general importance. Those circumstances seem to me apt for the grant of permission to appeal. The Respondent is accordingly granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal should it wish to pursue that course.