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Handling Legal issues: AWR guidelines and free AWR Seminar

Posted on 10/08/2011 by Emma Dadswell

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The Agency Workers Regulations are due to come into force on the 1st of October 2011. Employers and Agencies will now have to work even more closely to ensure compliance with this new legislation. As with any change in the law, this will result in increased admin and a big headache… right? Wrong!

Here at Handle we’ve teamed up with our legal partner, Penny Hunt to take away the complications that come with compliance with the changes. Hosted at Handle’s offices, you can come along to our AWR seminar on 10th August and ask us, or Penny Hunt, any questions you like about the new regulations. All you have to do is email our Business Operations Manager: emma.dadswell@handle.co.uk

AWR Q and A

Legislation comes into force on October 1 2011 that will affect any temporary worker you have working for you. Handle Recruitment have put together this briefing to guide you through the facts.

1. What are the Agency Workers Regulations?

The Regulations stem from the EU Temporary Workers Directive 2008 which gives agency workers the right to the same pay and other working conditions enjoyed by a hirer’s own workers after a qualifying period.

2. Who will be affected?

The regulations apply to all temporary workers - supplied by a temporary work agency to work temporarily under the direct supervision and direction of the hirer. Genuinely self-employed workers will not be affected.

3. What does equal treatment mean?

Equal treatment means parity in basic working and employment conditions. The entitlements include pay, duration of working time, night work, rest periods, rest breaks and annual leave. The definition of pay includes holiday pay, shift allowances, unsociable hours premia, overtime rates, vouchers with a fixed monetary value, stamps and bonuses directly related to quantity and quality of the work carried out.

4. When does an agency worker qualify for equal treatment?

Except for the Day One rights (detailed below) the agency worker will be entitled to equal treatment once she/he has worked for 12 weeks in the same role at the same hirer. This is irrespective of the working pattern (e.g. full time or part time). It is also irrespective of which or how many agencies supplied the agency worker to do the same role at the hirer.

5. How does the qualifying period work?

The qualifying period begins when a temporary worker starts a new assignment – either with the same hirer, or a new hirer. The qualifying period will be paused (rather than stopped) if the worker takes:

  • a break of six weeks or less;
  • certified sick leave for no more than 28 weeks;
  • statutory/ contractual maternity, adoption or paternity leave; or
  • time off for public duties (including jury service).
  • Pregnant agency workers have special rights -see below.

6. Day One rights - what benefits apply immediately?

Agency workers will have rights that apply from day one of their booking – access to collective facilities such as transport, canteens, crèches – on the same terms as a comparable direct employee. They will also have the right to be informed of existing vacancies in the organisation.

7. What benefits will not apply to agency workers?

The Regulations will not change the employment status of agency workers. So they will still not have the right to claim for unfair dismissal, redundancy pay or maternity leave. Nor will they be entitled to benefits such as occupational sick pay, company pension schemes, share options schemes, loans, expenses, health/life insurance, financial participation schemes and bonus payments based upon organisational or company performance. These are considered a reflection of a long-term relationship between an employee and an employer. Agency workers will therefore remain a flexible labour resource for hirers.

8. Who is liable for establishing equal treatment?

Both the agency and the client are responsible for any failure to provide equal treatment. As an agency we will take all reasonable steps to obtain the necessary information from the hirers to determine the agency workers basic working and employment conditions. The hirer must cooperate in providing accurate information to the agency. Day one rights are the sole responsibility of the hirer.

9. Pregnant agency workers

Pregnant agency workers will be entitled to paid time off to attend medical appointments and antenatal classes once they have achieved the 12 weeks’ qualifying service. In addition, if an assignment is terminated on pregnancy related health and safety grounds the agency will have to find suitable alternative work on terms which are not substantially less favorable than the previous assignment. If the agency cannot find suitable alternative work the agency will be required to pay the worker for the remainder of the original assignment unless she unreasonably refuses the assignment. In cases where an agency worker takes a break, which is related to pregnancy or childbirth, or takes maternity, adoption or paternity leave, the agency worker will be treated as if he or she has continued working in an assignment for the purposes of the qualifying period.

10. How can we lessen the impact of AWR?

Handle’s approach is to ensure full compliance with the AWR regulations, to protect our relationships with our clients and temporary workers and ensure that neither Handle Recruitment nor our clients incur any financial penalty through breach of the regulations. Handle Recruitment is implementing changes to our process and to our systems to ensure that engaging a temporary worker remains straightforward for the hirer and that temps continue to be a flexible resourcing solution. The AWR will require even closer cooperation between Handle Recruitment and our clients – particularly over pay transparency.