Orange & Gold Blog

Equal treatment for agency workers

The government has finalised regulations giving agency workers the same rights to equal pay and working conditions that permanent employees have.

The regulations implement a European directive on agency workers, as well as an agreement reached between the Government, the TUC and the CBI.
The regulations will come into force on 1 October 2011, and will apply exactly the same way to both agency workers employed by their employment agency, and those who are not. Key features of the regulations are:

• After a 12-week qualifying period pay will cover basic pay, overtime.

• The working conditions covered will be those relating to working time, overtime, breaks, rest periods, night work, holidays and public holidays.

• Successive assignments with the same end user will count towards the 12-week qualifying period, unless there is a break of at least six weeks between them or the roles are substantively different.

• Where repeat assignments are structured to avoid the agency worker triggering the 12-week qualifying period, an employment tribunal can increase any compensation awarded to the individual by up to £5,000.

• End-users employing temps must ensure from day one of the assignment they are informed of permanent vacancies in the end user’s organisation.

• Where an agency worker has not received equal pay and conditions, they will be able to claim compensation from either the agency or the end user in an employment tribunal, and the minimum award will usually be two weeks’ pay (uncapped).

Agency workers will not be given full employment rights, eg the right to claim unfair dismissal, and employers will retain the flexibility to engage agency workers periodically to meet their business needs. given equal access to onsite facilities (eg canteen, childcare and transport) from the start of their assignment, on the same terms as employees shift allowances, bonuses linked to individual performance, and vouchers or stamps with a monetary value (eg lunch or transport vouchers) but not other benefits like profit-sharing arrangements, bonuses based on company performance, occupational pension schemes and occupational sick pay.  Temporary agency workers will be entitled to the same pay and working conditions as if they were employed by the end user.