The Agency Workers Regulations: How prepared are you?

Posted on 30/05/2011 by Emma Dadswell


The new Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) come into force on 01 October 2011. There have been varying levels of confusion over what they involve and what they will mean for businesses. With this in mind, we want to know what your concerns are, and how we can be of assistance in the lead up to October.

What is AWR?

The AWR will affect all companies that employ temporary agency workers. It requires that after 12 weeks these employees are treated the same as permanent staff members in relation to pay and employment conditions.  In other words, a business must give the same rights to an individual recruited by an agency that they would do if they had hired them directly.

How will it affect you?

An agency worker must work at an organisation for at least 12 weeks (on either a full or part time basis) to qualify for the following rights:

  • Same basic hourly rate as a permanent employee doing the same job
  • Same overtime rate as a permanent employee doing the same job
  • Same annual leave entitlement and rest breaks as permanent staff members
  • Entitlement to bonuses which directly relate to the quality and quantity of work carried out

An agency worker cannot claim the following:

  • Occupational sick pay
  • Company pension scheme (if applicable)
  • Bonus payments that are directly linked to length of service
  • Company set maternity or redundancy pay
  • Agency workers will also not have the right to claim unfair dismissal

Whilst the above points must be applied following a 12 week period, there are a few rights that must be rolled out from the moment the employment begins. This includes the use any onsite facilities such as crèche, canteen and transport services. A company must also inform the agency worker of any internal vacancies.

What do you need to do?

There are some simple first steps

  1. Ensure your HR department is fully aware of the AWR  legislation and the consequences for non – compliance
  2. Evaluate the potential impact of the Regulations in terms of cost by measuring the number of agency workers who have completed a 12 weeks work in the same position in the last 12 months
  3. Examine any discrepancies between permanent workers pay and conditions and those of agency workers in order to prepare for the Regulations.

For most organisations that are still concerned, the important thing to remember is there is still time to act.  As a recruitment agency, we also have to make changes and ensure we are up to speed. As such, we realise it can be a complex and time-consuming exercise. That’s why we want to help you with the transition as best we can by providing the support and information you need.

What advice would you give fellow employers to prepare for AWR, or what are your concerns?

We will have Penny Hunt an Associate and an Employment Law specialist at Davies Arnold Cooper LLP on hand to answer your questions on the AWR. Feel free to comment on the blog and let us know what support you need. Alternatively send an email to to request our briefing document.