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Agency Workers Guidance

The government has published guidance to help employers and the recruitment sector prepare for the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations.

The Regulations which implement the EU Agency Workers Directive come into force in the UK on 1 October 2011. These regulations give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer. These employment rights will apply when they complete a 12 week qualifying period in a job.

As detailed in the press release the rights include key elements of pay, duration of working time, night work, rest periods and breaks, annual leave and paid time off for ante - natal appointments. The Regulations also include new entitlements for agency workers from ‘day one’ of their assignment with regards to access to facilities at the workplace and the right to be notified of any relevant vacancies.

The Directive states that rights should apply from ‘day one’ of an agency worker’s assignment. However Member States are allowed some flexibility as to how this principle is applied including the possibility of a qualifying period before the right to equal treatment arises. The UK, following agreement between the government CBI and TUC, has agreed a qualifying period of 12 weeks.

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

‘The agency sector is a key part of the UK’s flexible labour market. It provides the flexibility needed for employers to meet surges in demand, cover temporary absences or cope with seasonal fluctuations and provides a route into employment for thousands of individuals.’

‘The Agency Workers Regulations have been on the statute book since January 2010 and followed negotiations between the CBI and TUC. We looked carefully at the possibility of amending the Regulations to address employers’ concerns but were forced to conclude that we could not do so without putting the 12 week qualifying period at risk. This qualification period is something that is a key flexibility that we know is vital to business.’

‘Our focus therefore has been providing the best possible guidance to help everyone affected understand these regulations. We have collaborated with key organisations including employment agencies, employers, trade unions and representative bodies to develop this guidance and I believe the resulting document will help prepare everyone for the forthcoming changes.’

Separate guidance is to be published for the agency workers themselves.

Internet links: BIS press release Business Link Agency workers guidance Regulations

Posted - 08/06/2011

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