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New rights for agency workers

New and far reaching rights for agency workers are now in force in the UK.

The new Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which came into operation on 1 October 2011 are the first trans-national legal measure to ensure agency workers are treated equally across countries and in relation to full-time employees.  It has wide implications for all involved.

In essence, the primary aim of the regulations is to provide equal treatment of an agency worker who has been with the hirer for 12 weeks in a given job.  Agency workers will be entitled to basic working and employment conditions that are equal to those of the hirer’s own employees.  This covers:  pay, the duration of working time, night work, rest periods, rest breaks and annual leave.

However, the 12-week qualifying period need not be a continuous period.  Breaks during an agency worker’s assignment to the same job that are less than six weeks in length simply create a  pause in the 12-week qualifying period.

The regulations aim to ensure that agency workers have the same relevant terms and conditions as a ‘comparable employee’ of the hirer.  The agency worker and the employee must be engaged in the same or broadly similar work.

The new measures also give agency workers rights, from day one, to collective amenities and facilities provided by the hirer and to be informed of all employment opportunities with the hirer.

There are penalties for breaching these measures which, in some cases, can apply to both the temporary agency and the hirer, with financial implications if it is judged that the contract conditions seek to bypass the new measures.

Note:  The Graham Agency does not operate as a temporary work agency; the above information is provided solely to inform those contemplating employing, or already employing, temporary agency workers.

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