From 1 October, 2011, new regulations state employers must give all temporary agency workers access to facilities provided for your staff, including information on permanent job vacancies. Once they have been working consistently for 12 calendar weeks, they must be treated in exactly the same way as permanent staff doing similar work.
It doesn't matter how many hours they work in any of the calendar weeks. They qualify for the same rate of pay and working conditions as comparable personnel; hours, overtime pay, rest breaks and annual leave entitlement are all covered. This even applies to paid time off for ante natal appointments for pregnant agency staff.
What Employers Must Do
If you use agency workers, you must give them immediate access to job vacancies and most of the facilities your permanent staff enjoy. You should also pass details of the pay and conditions they can expect after 12 weeks to their agencies. When the time comes, you must ensure that you are in compliance with the regulations.
What the Recruitment Industry Thinks
While the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is concerned about the additional cost burden to businesses, The Association of Recruitment Consultancy (ARC) believes that the new regulations are undermining the agency workers' job market. An early survey confirms that many hirers are now reluctant to engage temporary workers or will terminate them after 11 weeks. This is allowed, although repeat assignments with over 6 week breaks between them will be subject to scrutiny under anti-avoidance regulations.
The ARC also has concerns about the extra administration that agencies will have to take on to track the qualifying periods and repeat assignments, especially as workers can employed by different agencies for the same hirer. For all these reasons, the CBI and ARC are calling for an urgent review of the effect of these regulations.
To make sure you stay in compliance, ask your recruitment agency what you should be doing about the new agency worker regulations.
This article is for information purposes only and should not be deemed as giving advice. For professional advice on any employment law matter, contact a suitably qualified adviser.