Don’t get caught out by the new Agency Worker Regulations

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The changes mean that agency workers will have the rights to the same basic terms and conditions as permanent staff after a 12-week qualifying period in the same job role with the same hirer.

These include the same basic rights regarding:

Duration of work
Night work
Rest breaks
Annual leave
Businesses should compare agency workers with employees doing the same or “broadly similar” work to come up with the correct rate to pay the agency worker.

The Regulations will affect temporary work agencies supplying temporary workers, who will need to ask the hirer for information about pay and basic working conditions (when it is clear that the agency worker will be in the same job with the same hirer for more than 12 weeks) so that they are treated as if they had been directly recruited to the job. The Regulations will also affect the hirers of temporary staff, who will need to work out the comparable terms and conditions of the agency worker, and ensure that these provisions are applied to the agency worker. Individuals who are supplied as temporary workers by a temporary work agency to work for a hirer will also be affected, as they will gain new rights.

The Guidance Notes for Employers: The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 set out how the 12 week qualifying period is calculated. The guidance also covers liability issues for the temporary work agency and the hirer, who are both potentially liable to the agency worker for a minimum of two weeks’ equal pay if a tribunal finds that equal treatment has not been applied to the agency worker.

It is important that businesses using temporary staff consider the following:

Consider whether their dependence on agency workers should or could be reduced by, for instance, directly employing staff or contracting with genuinely self-employed workers;
Look at working exclusively with one or two chosen recruitment consultancies in order to minimise administration;
Ensure staff (and in particular line managers) are aware of the Regulations and know that from 1 October 2011 they will need to provide accurate information on basic pay and working conditions to any agency through which temporary workers are supplied;
Set up systems to disclose information to agencies on pay and holidays for comparator employees;
Review their existing temporary employees and identify those members of the temporary workforce that are likely to acquire 12 week rights.
If you have any questions about the Agency Workers Regulations or HR in general please call us on 0117 214 0210 or email us we would be happy to help.

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