Agency Workers Regulations

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06 April 2011

The Government has now published draft guidance on the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which are due to come into force on 1 October 2011.

The Regulations will give agency workers an entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions that they would have been entitled to had they been recruited directly by the hirer, once they have completed a qualifying period of 12 weeks in an assignment.  The entitlement to equal treatment includes terms relating to pay, holidays, working time and rest breaks.

The Regulations are not retrospective, so agency workers already assigned to a job will begin the 12 week qualifying period from 1 October 2011.

Agency workers will also be entitled to access to facilities (e.g. canteens, child-care and transport facilities) and information on job vacancies from day one of their assignment.

The aim of the guidance is to help employees and the recruitment sector understand and implement the Regulations effectively and it includes explanations about:

  • who is covered by the Regulations and the arrangements that will be outside the scope of the Regulations
  • what equal treatment means under the Regulations and the new entitlements that agency workers will receive from day one and after the 12 week qualifying period
  • how to calculate the 12 week qualifying period
  • what is included and excluded when establishing equal treatment on pay and bonuses.

The draft guidance is available on the BIS website and is open for comment until 15 April 2011.  Final guidance is expected to be published towards the end of April.

The Government has confirmed that the Agency Workers Regulations will not be amended before they come into force in October. So employers that use agency workers should start planning now:

  • consider how the 12 week qualifying period may effect the suitability of temporary workers for certain projects
  • budget for higher costs that are likely to be ultimately passed on
  • consider alternatives to agency workers
  • review terms and conditions and consider:
    - introducing qualifying periods for certain rights
    - introducing transparent pay scales
    - replacing high-risk terms and conditions
    - rewording contracts and policies.

If you would like advice on the implications of the Agency Workers Regulations for your business, please contact Chris Seaton on 0117 939 2213 or by email or contact the lawyer at Burges Salmon with whom you usually deal.

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