Temporary agency workers gain rights
The biggest ever shake-up in the law relating to temporary workers is about to give them many of the same rights as permanent employees, an Oldham solicitor warns employers.
The new rules will have the greatest impact on employers who use agencies to find temporary workers.
“The Agency Workers’ Regulations that come into force on October 1 will give them the right to similar basic employment and working conditions as permanent staff,” says Mike Pitt, employment-law partner at Pearson Hinchliffe Commercial Law, Hollinwood.
Agency workers will be able to eat in the staff canteen and have the right of access to such facilities such as child care from day one of their assignment.
After 12 weeks in the same job, they will have the right to the same basic and overtime pay, commission payments, annual leave and rest breaks as their permanent colleagues. And pregnant agency workers will be allowed to take paid time off for ante-natal appointments during their assignment.
The rights will not, though, extend to company sick pay, profit-share schemes, occupational pensions or redundancy pay.
Mr Pitt warns employers against trying to get round the new law by placing agency workers on a series of 11-week contracts or varying their roles every few weeks.
“Any such ‘structure of assignments’ is forbidden,” he points out, “and could attract a fine of up to £5,000.”
The new rights are not retrospective and for agency workers already on assignment, the 12-week qualifying period will start from October 1.
The Government estimates that the regulations will add 0.3 per cent to the UK pay bill.
Published in the Oldham Eveneing Chronicle, 28-September 2011.
Pearson Hinchliffe Solicitors provides advice and assistance to employers, employees and agency workers on employment law matters including Agency Workers Regulations. For more information, contact Susan Mayall in our Employment Law team using the details provided below.Subscribe to our newsletter
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