These Regulations are due to come in to force on 1st October this year and affect those who use agency workers. Effectively it will mean that agency workers will have some additional rights from day one of their assignment and, after 12 weeks of their placement, they will become entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer.
Who is an agency worker?
Usually this will be a temporary worker who works for a hirer and is placed by an agency, i.e. where there are three parties to an agreement: the hirer, the employee and the agency.
What will they be entitled to?
From the first day of their assignment, the agency worker will have the right to have access to collective facilities comparable to someone directly recruited by the hirer. Such facilities are those normally provided by the employer and include staff canteen, crèche, car parking, transport services between two sites of employer. In addition, they have the right to be informed of any relevant job vacancies at the hirer.
Once they have stayed for the 12-week qualifying period the agency worker will get the right to equal treatment to basic working conditions as if they had been employed directly by the hirer. This only applies to certain working conditions which are: pay, duration of working time, night rest, rest periods and breaks, and annual leave.
In order to meet the requirements of the Regulations an employer will have to identify a comparable employee which is likely to be someone doing broadly similar work with similar skills and/or qualifications, and who works at the same site.
Who is responsible for ensuring these requirements are met?
From the first day of the assignment it is the responsibility of the hirer to comply with the Regulations.
If there is a break between two consecutive placements with a hirer will this affect the agency worker’s rights?
In order to get the right to equal treatment to basic working conditions, an agency worker should have 12-weeks service. If there is a break between assignments of less than six weeks then the placements will be considered continuous. So, for example, if an agency worker is placed for 4 weeks in February and then has a break of 4 weeks in March before another 8 week placement from April they will have the reached the necessary 12-week service at the end of May.
The Regulations have certain protection clauses to ensure that employers don’t try and get out of the 12-week qualifying period by using the 6-week break or not utilising an agency worker for consistent periods.
With over 1.3 million agency workers in the UK, this will almost inevitably add to the cost of using agency workers, bearing in mind the additional amounts to be paid to them and the increased administration.