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Agency workers

Original author: Kerry Viner
Updating author: Susan Mayne

Summary

  • The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/93), which implement the Temporary Agency Work Directive (2008/104/EC), came into force on 1 October 2011. (See Legislation affecting the use and supply of agency workers)
  • The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/3319) regulate the conduct of employment agencies and employment businesses. (See Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003)
  • Under the Agency Workers Regulations, agency workers have the right to equal treatment in relation to collective facilities and amenities provided by the hirer, and the right to be given the same information about "relevant vacancies", as comparable workers from day one of their assignment with a hirer. (See Rights in relation to collective facilities and amenities and Right to be informed of relevant vacancies)
  • Following the completion of a 12-week qualifying period, agency workers are entitled to equal treatment in relation to "basic working and employment conditions" including pay, working time and holiday. (See Equal treatment in relation to "basic working and employment conditions")
  • The Agency Workers Regulations permit a derogation (known as "the Swedish derogation") from the obligation to give agency workers equal treatment in relation to pay where an agency worker has a permanent contract of employment with a temporary work agency that satisfies certain requirements. (See Permanent contracts of employment between temporary work agencies and agency workers ("the Swedish derogation"))
  • An agency worker must work in the same role with the same hirer for 12 continuous calendar weeks, during one or more assignments to complete the qualifying period. However, the Agency Workers Regulations provide that, during certain absences, the qualifying period will pause and restart on the agency worker's return, and in other circumstances the qualifying period will continue to accrue in the worker's absence. (See Qualifying period)
  • Where a hirer or a temporary work agency structures an agency worker's assignments in a way that prevents him or her from acquiring (or retaining) the service required to become (or remain) entitled to equal treatment in relation to basic working and employment conditions this will breach the anti-avoidance provisions in the Agency Workers Regulations. (See "Anti-avoidance" provisions)
  • On completion of the 12-week qualifying period, agency workers become entitled to certain family-friendly rights, namely: the right to paid time off to attend antenatal care; the right to unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant woman with whom the worker has a "qualifying relationship" to antenatal appointments; the right to time off (paid and unpaid) to attend adoption appointments prior to the commencement of an adoption placement; and the right to alternative work or paid time off if an assignment is not suitable on maternity grounds. (See Family-friendly rights)
  • An agency worker may request information from a hirer if he or she suspects that the hirer has breached his or her rights in relation to collective facilities or job vacancies. An agency worker may request information from an agency or a hirer (in that order) if the worker suspects that his or her rights in relation to basic working and employment conditions have been breached. (See Right to receive information)
  • Only a hirer can be liable for breaching an agency worker's right to equal treatment in relation to collective facilities or job vacancies. However, a hirer, or a temporary worker agency, or both organisations, can be liable for breaching an agency worker's right to equal treatment in relation to his or her basic working and employment conditions, including pay. (See Liability and remedies)

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