The Agency Workers’ Regulations 2010 (“AWR”) are due to come into force on 1 October 2011 and give effect to the EU Temporary Agency Workers’ Directive of 2008.
What are the AWR?
The AWR give all agency workers who are assigned to do temporary work for a hirer by a temporary work agency limited rights from day one of the assignment and, after 12 weeks in the same job, equal treatment in terms of pay and other basic working conditions, when compared to the permanent workers of the hirer.
What must an employer do from day one?
All agency workers need to have access to “collective facilities available to other workers” such as a canteen, a crèche, etc. from the first day of the assignment. Note that this does not necessarily extend to all benefits which a hirer might provide to its workers or employees. For example, the AWR do not give access to subsidised offsite facilities such as a gym.
Agency workers should also be provided with access to information about relevant job vacancies that would be available to a comparable worker from day one. This could be done as part of the induction process. It will remain up to the hirer to decide how it wishes to publicise vacancies and who it wishes to hire.
How does the 12 week qualifying period work?
After completing a 12 week qualifying period with the same hirer, in the same role (regardless of how many hours the worker does on a weekly basis), the agency worker gets additional rights. The 12 weeks start only after 1 October 2011 and is not retrospective. If the agency worker changes roles or take a break of more than 6 weeks between assignments with the same hirer, the clock will be re-set to zero and the qualifying period will start again.
What must an employer do after 12 weeks?
The agency worker becomes entitled to receive equal treatment in respect of basic working and employment conditions, including:
- pay (in its widest sense); and
- working time (which will include any rest breaks or annual leave which are provided in excess of statutory requirements).
We are holding a seminar on 22 September 2011 which will provide further details and practical guidance on the AWR as part of an update on atypical workers.
NOTE: There are some press reports that suggest the Government may make changes to these provisions before implementation, even at this late stage. If they do, be assured we will tell you as soon as we can.