Agency Workers Regulations: Government publishes final guidance

The Government has published final guidance for employers and recruitment agencies on the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which come into force on 1 October 2011.

Agency workers will be given the right to the same basic employment and working conditions, such as pay and holidays, as permanent staff and will be entitled to use collective facilities, including canteens and childcare facilities, from the first day of their appointment.

Simon Horsfield, partner at Pinsent Masons, says the section in the Guidance dealing with pay and bonuses is helpful.

The AWR were conceived after the former Labour Government, the CBI and the TUC made a deal under which agency workers would be given certain terms equal to those of staff employed directly through the hirer once they had completed 12 weeks in their post.

Before the general election, the Conservatives indicated that, should they be elected, they would review the proposed legislation as they were “very unhappy” about the fact that the proposed 12-week qualifying period was not set out in the European Agency Workers Directive and had not been subject to consultation with employers, the recruitment industry or Parliament.

However, in October 2010, the Government announced that it would not be amending the Regulations. Edward Davey, employment relations minister, stressed today that the coalition Government had looked at amending the regulations but was forced to conclude that it could not do so without putting the 12-week qualifying period at risk.

Davey added: “Our focus, therefore, has been providing the best possible guidance to help everyone affected understand these Regulations. We have collaborated with key organisations – including employment agencies, employers, trade unions and representative bodies – to develop this guidance and I believe the resulting document will help prepare everyone for the forthcoming changes.”

Kevin Green, chief exectuive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, commented: “There has been a genuine effort to take on board the concerns of recruitment agencies and to clarify how these Regulations will work in practice.

“Implementation will create some challenges, but the Regulations do not fundamentally impact on the crucial flexibility that agency work provides.”

Further information on the Agency Workers Regulations is available at XpertHR.

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