Benchmark Employer Advice, advice-centre
Q: Agency Workers Regulations - new rights, new rules - what could it mean for my business?
The Agency Workers Regulations ("AWR") improve the position of temps (as agency workers are usually known) and may make them less attractive overall to businesses.
The most important new right is the right to the same pay and conditions when a temp has worked in the same role, for the same hirer for twelve weeks. These twelve weeks do not need to be consecutive as a large number of breaks, such as holidays or normal shut downs, are allowed.
Whilst these breaks do not count towards the 12, they do not prevent weeks before and weeks after from being aggregated.
There are anti-avoidance provisions, and even penalties of up to £5,000 per temp, for manipulating the situation in an attempt to stop temps from reaching the twelve week threshold.
The basic effect of the twelve week rights will mean that the rates for temps who stay long term with a hirer will rise considerably and this will make temps less attractive afterwards.
The right to equal pay can be avoided if the agency employs the temp on a written contract of employment which gives the temp certain minimum rights, including some pay for up to four weeks between assignments, in effect "money for nothing". This "get out" is known as the Swedish Derogation.
Other rights - as well as those entitlements that are there from the moment of hire - include to the use common facilities, such as crèche or canteen as well as the right to be informed of vacancies with the hirer.
Other points to consider:
- The AWR are likely to have little effect on very short term temps and the agencies who supply them
- Agencies will have to keep careful records so they know when the 12 weeks threshold has been crossed in view of the significant rights which the temps acquire at that point