Agency Workers Rights
From 1st October 2011 the Agency Workers Regulations will become law making it a legal requirement that agency workers receive the same treatment as permanent staff in relation to pay and basic working conditions, subject to a 12 week qualifying period. These regulations are a result of the European Temporary Agency Workers Directive and will affect both agencies and those who hire workers from them.
What are the Rights?
Equal rights relate to the pay and basic working conditions of agency staff including pay, working hours, rest breaks, holidays and overtime as well as access to facilities such as canteens, transportation services and childcare facilities. It should be noted that ‘Pay’ covers any financial reward directly attributable to the role including bonuses, commissions and lunch vouchers. Hirers are also required to keep their agency workers informed about vacancies and to give them the same opportunities to find permanent work with the hirer as permanent employees.
To qualify, agency workers will have been working in a role for 12 weeks continuously although allowable breaks to the continuous period include maternity, paternity, adoption leave and also sickness absence.
What’s not included?
Agency workers will not acquire the rights of employees in relation to, for example, pension provision, sick pay, maternity, paternity and adoption pay, redundancy, expenses arrangements or unfair dismissal.
If an employment tribunal rules against the employer in the event of a claim, the maximum penalty is £5,000 together with unlimited compensation for the aggrieved worker.
So, if your organisation uses or is likely to use agency workers who may well qualify for the 12 week period, you need to consider what the permanent equivalent of those roles are, the pay and conditions attached to those roles and ensure they are included for the agency workers.