A landmark deal on the rights of agency workers has been agreed between the government, employers and trade unions.
Update: The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 come into force on 1 October 2011.
The “agency workers deal” mentioned in this article has led to the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
Find out more about the regulations on our dedicated agency workers page, or use the resources below.
Temporary and agency workers in the UK will receive equal treatment after 12 weeks employment. They will be entitled to the same pay as permanent workers, but not to sick pay or pension rights.
There are estimated to be about 1.4 million agency workers in the UK.
Business secretary John Hutton said: “This is the right deal for Britain. Today’s agreement achieves our twin objectives of flexibility for British employers and fairness for workers. It will give people a fair deal at work without putting their jobs at risk or cutting off a valuable route into employment.”
The CBI said the deal was “the least worst outcome available” for employers.
The government is to consult on mechanisms for resolving disputes regarding the definition of equal treatment and compliance with the new rules. It will also look at anti-avoidance measures, in particular in how it treats repeat contracts for the same worker.
The government said it would now try to reach a deal at European level. Subject to that, the new laws could be introduced in the UK as early as next April.
The deal could also allow the UK to keep its opt-out from the Working Time Directive, which has come under increasing pressure from the EU.
John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “There has been a major risk of damaging legislation coming from Brussels, and the CBI has judged that the government’s proposals represent the least worst outcome available for British business.
“Half of agency assignments will be unaffected as they last less than 12 weeks – protecting businesses’ ability to deal with peaks and troughs in demand and shorter-term staff absences. And while pay is covered, occupational benefits that recognise the long-term relationship permanent staff have with an employer, like sick pay and pensions, are rightly excluded.”
In the following clip, employment lawyer Nicola Johnston explains just how far agency workers’ rights will go.