The rights of agency workers
Meredith Hurst Friday, July 8, 2011
The second half of 2011 looks likely to be the calm before the storm in terms of employment law legislation; the government will focus on reviewing and consulting on which areas require change, rather than bringing new legislation into force. However, the much anticipated Agency Worker Regulations 2010 come into force on 1 October 2011. These provide a significant improvement in the employment rights of agency workers.
The regulations cover agency workers supplied by a temporary worker agency to a hirer. This includes most agency workers and those traditionally referred to as 'temps'. To establish rights in these regulations the agency worker needs to be able to establish a comparator.
The regulations don't cover the genuinely self employed, individuals working through their own company or individuals working on managed service contracts.
From day one of their engagement, an agency worker will be entitled to:
- The same access to facilities such as staff canteens, childcare and transport as a comparable employee of the hirer.
- Be informed about job vacancies.
After a 12 week qualifying period an agency worker will be entitled to the same basic conditions of employment as if they had been directly employed by the hirer on day one of the assignment, specifically:
- Pay - including any fee, bonus, commission, or holiday pay relating to the assignment. It does not include redundancy pay and maternity/paternity pay.
- Working time rights - for example, including any annual leave above the minimum required by law.
Agency workers will also be entitled to paid time off for ante-natal appointments during their working hours.
Interestingly the 12 week qualifying period does not have to be continuous. Most breaks between or during an assignment to the same job that are less than six weeks in length will simply pause the accrual of the 12 week qualifying period. Most breaks of longer than six weeks will break continuity.
The accrual of 12 weeks qualifying period can be paused by:
- Absences for sickness and jury service (for up to 28 weeks).
- Annual leave, shut downs (e.g. factory closures and school holidays) and industrial action (for the duration of the absence).
Please let us have your views about how you feel the regulations will help or hinder your business. We will be updating you about the regulations and running a series of seminars in the coming months.