Agency worker regulations
The Agency Worker Regulations 2010 (AWR) became law in the UK on 1st October 2011. This is an important new piece of legislation and we advise that all temporary agency workers spend some time and get to grips with the new regulations. Whilst the various rules surrounding AWR are complex the overall aim is simple; to ensure that you as a temporary agency worker are treated equally in terms of basic working and employment conditions.
The regulations refer to three separate parties, you as the agency worker, us as the temporary work agency and our clients as the hirers. The hirer is the end user who requests agency workers through us, the employment agency. The hirer can be an individual person, company, partnership, sole trader or public body and is responsible for supervising and directing you while you perform your shift.
Under the regulations you will have the right to the same basic working and employment conditions as comparable employees in the hirers that we place you. Comparable employees are staff or employees who are employed directly by the hirer and who are doing the same or broadly similar work to you as an agency worker.
So what exactly does equal treatment mean for you as an agency worker? Whilst the regulations have no impact on your legal employment status as a temporary agency worker, you will be entitled to equal treatment in terms of:
- Basic rates of pay
- Overtime or anti-social uplifts (evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays, etc.)
- Bonus and incentive schemes
- Holiday pay
- Day one benefits (as outlined further below)
The regulations have no effect on certain benefits that only apply to permanent employees. As a temporary agency worker you will not be entitled to certain benefits including:
- Sick pay
- Maternity/paternity leave
12 WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD
It is important to remember that equal treatment only applies after you have performed a certain amount of work at the hirer. In terms of the regulations you will only qualify for equal treatment if you work in the same role (what the regulations refer to as an "assignment") with the same hirer for 12 continuous weeks. The regulations provide for a number of circumstances in which breaks in weeks worked do not prevent you from meeting the 12 week qualifying period.
It is easiest to think of the 12 week qualifying period as a clock that runs from 0 to 12. Certain breaks between assignments will "reset" the clock to 0 and you will resume from qualifying week 1 when you return to work with the hirer. Other breaks will "pause" the clock and the clock will then continue to tick when you return to work with the hirer. There are also some breaks where the clock will "continue" to tick even if you arecan s not working at the hirer.
Breaks where the qualifying clock will "reset" to zero:
You begin a new job role (assignment) with a new hirer
You remain with the same hirer but the job role has substantively changed (i.e. there is a genuine and real difference to your job role)
There is a break between assignments of more than 6 weeks (and the break is not covered by one of the rules for "pausing" or "continuing" the clock as below)
Breaks where the qualifying clock will "pause":
A break of no longer than six weeks where you return to the same job role with the same hirer
You take annual leave or a break of up to 28 weeks due to sickness or injury
Breaks where the qualifying clock will "continue" to tick:
Breaks due to childbirth, pregnancy, maternity or any related leave which takes place during pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after childbirth
In all of these specific cases the qualifying clock will continue to tick for the originally intended duration of the assignment, or the likely duration of the assignment (whichever is longer).
To summarise, assume that you work as a carer for the same hospital for 10 weeks. If you then take a break for 6 weeks or less and return to this hospital in the same job role then you will resume work on qualifying week 11. Note that in this scenario the qualifying clock "paused" at week 10 and then continued to tick to week 11 on your return. If your job role changes then you will start on qualifying week 1 as the qualifying clock will "reset". You will also resume on qualifying week 1 should you take a break for longer than 6 weeks before returning to work.
BENEFITS THAT YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ENTITLED TO
As a temporary agency worker you will also be entitled to certain "day one" benefits regardless of the number of weeks worked. These rights cover access to collective facilities and amenities of the hirer (including canteens, transport services and child care facilities) and the right to be informed by the hirer of any relevant vacant posts and internal training resources.
FROM WHEN DOES THE AWR APPLY?
The new regulations are not applied retrospectively. What this means for you is that you will only start to accrue qualifying weeks from 1 October 2011. No work done before 1 October 2011 will count towards your qualifying weeks and the first assignments that you perform after 1 October 2011 will therefore count as qualifying week 1.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO ENSURE THAT I RECEIVE THESE BENEFITS?
Inform us where you work at the same hirer through third party agencies
The new regulations place a responsibility on us as the employment agency to properly track and record how many weeks you have worked at each hirer. We need to do this to ensure that you are treated equally once you have reached the 12 week qualifying period.
You will qualify for equal treatment after 12 weeks as long as you are in the same role with the same hirer, i.e. what agency you worked through is irrelevant. There may be situations where we place you at a hirer where you have worked previously through a third party agency (an agency outside of the A24 Group). As a start then, you should inform us of any dates after 1 October 2011 where you have worked at a hirer through another third party agency. This should be done by emailing the full details to email@example.com. You will need to be clear and state the name of the hirer, the nature of the work you have performed and the dates that you worked for this hirer through another third party agency. This information is vital as we need to ensure that you are also given the benefit of weeks that are worked through outside agencies.
As an example, assume that you work at a hospital through one of our agencies. Should you then work in the same hospital (in the same or similar job role) through another third party agency then you should inform us of this. This could happen where you have worked for the hirer before we place you there, or where we place you at a hirer and you later work there through another third party agency before we place you there again. However, if you only work at this hospital through a third party agency (i.e. we never place you at this hospital) then you will not need to inform us.
Inform us if you take annual leave through a third party agency, if you are sick or if you take any other breaks
We are required to properly record all break periods so that we can accurately calculate how many qualifying weeks you have accrued at each hirer. You therefore need to inform us of breaks such as annual leave paid by a third party agency or sick leave. This can be done by emailing the details of your annual or sick leave to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will require proof of leave or sickness so you should attach your payslip, signed leave form, doctor's note, etc. to the email. For all other breaks you should email the details of the break to the above email address. The email should include the type of break, the exact dates of the break and the hirer that the break related to if applicable.
Inform us if you have a query
As above, where you wish to supply us with information regarding work for other agencies, leave or other break periods you should do this by emailing email@example.com. All other queries regarding the AWR, including queries relating to benefits that you believe you may be entitled to under the new regulations, should be logged on the AWR feedback section of A24 Connect. To do this you should log into you A24 Connect profile, click on the feedback section and then submit a query by selecting "AWR Queries" from the feedback section dropdown menu.