Despite calls from some quarters that the Government should delay the introduction of the new Agency Workers Regulations, it appears that, after all, it came into force in the UK on 1 October 2011 without any changes. The effect is to provide equal treatment for temporary agency workers, compared with permanent workers, in terms of basic working and employment conditions (including pay, holidays, working time, rest periods and maternity leave) once they have worked for the qualifying period of 12 weeks. Jayne Harrison a partner in Chattertons Solicitors says: "Some people were calling for a delay to help boost employment prospects. But: no dice. The regulations give agency workers entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job.”
Other benefits that agency workers will gain from the first day of their assignment include:
- information about vacancies so that they have the same opportunity as other workers to find permanent employment;
- equal access to on-site facilities, such as child care and transport services; and
- Improved rights to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers, including the right to reasonable time off work to attend ante-natal appointments and adjustments to working conditions and working hours.
Jayne comments: “A concern we have is that some employers may have been encouraged by the speculation that there might be a moratorium on the introduction, to simply put the issue on the back-burner, and not consider what the Regulation will mean to them. Now they need to get their skates on.”
If you need further employment advice please call Jayne on 01476 591550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.