Preparing for Change: New Rights for Agency Workers

LONDON, 30 SEPTEMBER 2011 - Many organisations are still coming to terms with the likely impact of the Agency Workers Regulations, which come into force on Saturday 1 October 2011, even though they have been in the pipeline for many months.  

The Regulations mean that agency workers who have been in post 12 weeks (the qualifying period) are entitled to "equal treatment" in respect of basic pay and other working conditions with the hirer's own employees.

Chris Wellham, of Counsel at Hogan Lovells, said:

"Hirers have an ever-decreasing window to prepare for the impact of the Regulations.  Most pressing is the need to make access to collective facilities such as canteens and crèches available to agency workers – this right kicks in for agency workers from 1 October without any qualifying period.  They will also need to give agency workers access to information about permanent job vacancies from day one.

Then hirers must make sure they have systems in place to give detailed and accurate information to agencies about the pay of comparable employees.  If they fail to do so, it is the hirer rather than the agency who will be on the hook for any liability that arises from a claim by an agency worker that they have not received equal treatment after the qualifying period.

 The Regulations are likely to increase the cost of agency workers to hirers, as agencies are almost certainly going to pass on increased costs to end users.  In the short term, issues are most likely to arise around entitlements to bonus.  Government guidance indicates that agency workers are entitled to bonuses that relate to personal performance.  In practice it is often difficult to tell what part of a bonus relates to personal performance."


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