The new Agency Workers Regulations, published in January this year under the EU Agency Workers Directive (AWD), will come into force in the UK on 1st October 2011. The current draft regulations are subject to some amendments by the new coalition government but the main principle of equal treatment and parity of pay to agency workers will most likely remain.
In summary the current regulations provide that agency workers will be entitled to equal access to on-site facilities and information about permanent vacancies from the start of an assignment. After 12 weeks working in the same role they will be entitled to basic employment and working conditions no less favourable than employees recruited directly by the hirer, and pregnant mothers will have increased rights.
My own thoughts on this are that, whilst the AWR should protect temporary workers it should not be at the cost of the business and the economy. A recent survey of HR directors by the REC showed that 84% intended to increase their use of temporary workers as they look to expand their workforce and respond to market conditions whilst the economy remains unstable and permanent recruitment considerably depleted. Many businesses have survived the recession by engaging workers on short term temporary contracts to increase flexibility and reduce costs which has been of benefit to all.
What hirers and agencies need to know are the final clarifications of the regulations so that we can plan ahead and adjust to the new framework. What is clear to me is that agencies need to ensure close working relationships with their clients and work together to help interpret the legislation and implement AWR effectively to maintain economic growth and prosperity.
Please read a detailed press release in our news section for the full breakdown of implications for businesses and staff.