The implications of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which came into force on 1 October 2011 need to be understood by all industrial employers.
At their heart the Regulations seek to ensure equality of basic pay and benefits for agency workers as against directly employed counterparts. This not only includes pay, holiday leave entitlement and eligibility for some bonus payments after 12 weeks on assignment but access to collective facilities (such as a staff canteen) from day one.
Being subject to a 12 week qualifying period, the majority of new rights under the Regulations will not take effect until Christmas. Hirers of agency labour nonetheless need to take care that they apply immediately the handful of “day one” rights, operational from the first day of assignment from Saturday. These include access to collective facilities but also access to information about job vacancies.
A number of recent surveys published in the press provide conflicting statistics as to the likely impact of the Regulations upon future use of agency labour, some suggesting usage will be affected adversely, others quite the opposite. In fact there are many unknowns surrounding these Regulations.
The coming months are likely to reveal much in terms of how they are being applied in practice, such as whether any preferred business models emerge, as well as how some of the less precisely drafted terms are interpreted. Even those hirers who have prepared well for 1 October would therefore be well advised to keep their approach to the Regulations under regular review as the law develops.
International law firm Eversheds has produced a guidance for clients – Responding to the agency workers regulations 2010: An overview for employers.
Click here to view the document.