Agency Worker Regulations Info

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 cover the hire of workers supplied by temporary work agencies. The Regulations give agency workers the right to the same basic pay and working conditions as if they had been employed directly in the same role, once they have been in that role for 12 weeks. They also have the right to the same collective facilities and amenities provided to comparable workers from day one of their placement. A comparable worker is a permanent worker in the same role, carrying out the same type of work, at the same level of responsibility or difficulty and in the same location as the agency worker.

What do the Regulations cover?

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 cover the hire of most agency workers (often referred to as temporary workers or ‘temps’) supplied by temporary work agencies, including employment agencies and other intermediaries responsible for supplying temporary workers. The Regulations do not cover temporary workers recruited by employers directly without using an agency, or permanent staff recruited through an agency. In addition, the Regulations do not cover individual freelancers, contractors or consultants when there is a ‘business-to-business’ relationship, i.e. the hirer is a customer of the person in a business or professional capacity.

What obligations do the Regulations impose on hirers and agencies?

The Regulations oblige hirers and agencies to provide agency workers with equal rights to those of comparable employees or workers. In general, the Regulations provide agency workers with two sets of rights:

From day one of their assignment, agency workers have the right to access the same facilities, amenities (for example canteens and crèches) and information about job vacancies as comparable workers.

After 12 weeks in the same job, agency workers have the right to receive the same basic pay and basic working conditions (for example breaks and annual leave) as if they had been employed directly by the hirer.

The responsibility for ensuring workers receive their day-one rights lies with the hirer. The responsibility for ensuring they receive their 12-week rights lies both with the hirer and the agency, with both parties required to co-operate with each other to ensure that the provisions of the Regulations are met.

Rights from day one

The obligation to provide agency workers with access to facilities and amenities at work from day one of their assignment applies to the following: • Parking. • Transport services. • Childcare facilities. • Staff common rooms. • Canteens. • Kitchen facilities. • Food and drink machines. • Washroom facilities. • Prayer rooms. The rights afforded to agency workers should be equal to those of a comparable worker. If there is no comparable worker, there is no obligation to provide equal rights.

Agency workers do not need to be provided with enhanced rights. For example, if there is a waiting list for car parking spaces, the agency worker has the right to join the waiting list, but does not have an enhanced right to jump the queue and immediately receive a parking space.

Rights from 12 weeks

The obligation to provide equal treatment from 12 weeks covers pay, working hours, breaks and annual leave. Pay includes basic salary, overtime, holiday pay, shift allowances, bonuses and commission. It does not include sick pay, maternity, paternity and adoption pay, redundancy or notice pay, expenses or any benefits in kind. After 12 weeks in the job, pregnant agency workers are also entitled to paid time off to attend medical appointments and antenatal classes.

How is the 12-week qualifying period calculated?

The 12-week qualifying period must be in the same job with the same hirer and is not retrospective. Although the period must be accrued with the same hirer, it does not need to be via the same agency.

The period does not need to be continuous, with provisions of the Regulations allowing a break of up to six weeks and permitting longer breaks in certain circumstances. This is to prevent agencies and hirers avoiding an agency worker completing the 12-week period by employing or hiring them for a series of short assignments.

How does a hirer meet these obligations?

From day one, hirers must ensure that agency workers have access to the same facilities and amenities as the permanent workers they will be working alongside. It is important that this is arranged before the worker begins their assignment. Agency workers should be informed of the facilities and amenities available to them, as failure to make them aware could be construed as restricting their access. This information can be provided during an induction and may be included in a written pack that can be handed to agency workers when they start their assignment.

Hirers also need to provide agency workers with access to information about relevant job vacancies within the organisation. Vacancies are considered relevant if they would be available to comparable workers. This information does not need to be given to the agency worker directly and can be provided in the same way as it is to comparable workers, for example on a noticeboard or staff intranet. However, hirers must ensure that agency workers are aware of how to access the information about vacancies.

After 12 weeks in the job, both the hirer and the agency must ensure that agency workers receive the same pay and basic working conditions as if they were employed directly by the hirer for the same job. In order to ensure compliance, the hirer should supply the agency with details of the pay and conditions of comparable direct employees in advance of the worker completing the 12week period. In some cases, it may be apparent at the beginning of the assignment that it will last for more than 12 weeks, and in those circumstances it is good practice for the hirer to supply the information to the agency in advance.

The information the hirer must provide the agency includes:

  • Level of pay, based on the basic salary of comparable employees plus any overtime payments, shift allowances and other similar payments.
  • Details of any bonus or commission schemes, including how performance is appraised and how payments are made.
  • Annual leave entitlement, based on that of comparable employees.
  • Details of any vouchers with a fixed value (for example luncheon vouchers) issued to comparable employees.

If an agency worker has reason to believe they are not receiving the same pay and basic working conditions as if they had been employed directly and are therefore not receiving equal treatment, they are entitled to request information relating to their entitlement. For entitlements due from day one of the assignment, the hirer is responsible for providing the worker with the information, either directly or via the agency. After 12 weeks, the agency is responsible for providing the information. The agency has 28 days from the worker’s request to obtain the information and pass it on to the worker in writing. If they fail to do so once 30 days have passed, the worker may then request the information directly from the hirer.

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