1st October 2011 marked a watershed in the treatment of agency workers by employers. If you are an agency worker, or employ agency workers here’s the ‘in a nutshell’ summary that you need.
12 weeks is the critical period of employment, after this period has elapsed an agency workers’ entitlements change in respect to the following:
- Rate of pay
- Rest periods and breaks (paid or unpaid)
- Working hours
- Holiday entitlement
- Night work liability
Quite simply, their entitlement must become identical to that of a full time employee in the same role, if not you may well find yourself on the receiving end of a valid grievance and embarking upon a route to ET if you do not become compliant. There are several misconceptions around the agency worker regulations (AWR11), agency workers do not become full time employees after the 12 week period; their entitlements to the attributes above simply change to match that of a full time employee. Also, the regulations apply to all agency workers but cannot be back dated to cover a period prior to the implementation of AWR11 on 1 October 2011. There are, as is often the case, methods of avoiding compliance with AWR; the three most common methods are:
- Employing agency workers for periods of less than 12 weeks
- Issuing Swedish Derogation contracts
- Employing genuinely self-employed staff, to whom AWR11 does not apply
If you are an agency employee and think that you have not been afforded your entitlement to equal treatment under AWR11, contact your trade union representative or a member of your agency’s HR staff. If you’re an employer and think you may be in breach of AWR11, take prompt and effective action to make sure you remedy the situation, back-dating where appropriate to 1 October 2011; contact an HR and employment law specialist for detailed advice.