Agency workers receive pay and conditions boost

Worker on keyboard Agency workers now have additional rights as a result of European rules

Related Stories

Agency workers in the UK are set to receive a pay and conditions boost as new rights come into effect.

The Agency Workers Directive gives such workers equality with directly employed staff after 12 weeks in a job.

This could mean pay rises and rights to holidays, sick pay, maternity leave and access to private health benefits.

Trade unions have welcomed the move, but some employers say it could discourage firms from hiring casual staff.

Vacancy notices

The move comes after the UK government implemented the European Union directive, which was introduced on 1 October.

Under the new rules, agency workers will be allowed to use some of the same facilities as staff.

For example, from the first day of employment they can use a creche, canteen or transport services.

They will also be entitled to information about internal vacancies at the company they are working for, and to be given the opportunity to apply for them.

After 12 weeks in the same role, agency workers will be entitled to the same employment and working conditions as permanent staff.

These include pay, overtime, shift allowances, holiday pay and bonuses attributable to individual performance, as well as maternity rights.

'Basic fairness'

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said the development was "the best possible Christmas present for the majority of our agency members".

"Six years after the launch of the CWU's campaign, hundreds of thousands of agency workers across the UK can now finally look forward to some basic employment fairness," he said.

"Not so very much to ask for, you would have thought, yet it's been a fight that has pitched the trade union movement against successive UK governments and commercial interests - some of which are even now trying to circumvent this welcome piece of European legislation."

But some employers' groups, such as the Forum of Private Business, suggest the new rules will make the labour market less flexible, and job creation and recruitment will suffer.

And the CBI said many businesses were scaling back on agency workers because of the extra cost of the new law, which should be "setting alarm bells" through Whitehall.

There are currently 1.4 million agency workers in the UK.

Agency staff have basic employment rights, such as the minimum wage, and are subject to the Work Time Regulations which provide for 20 days basic holiday and eight days bank holiday leave.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    What the law says, and what is offered, may differ in practice.

    Many agencies, for example, are still telling their workers that they're not entitled to holiday pay, years after it became mandatory.

    Others get around the minimum wage by offering accomodation as part of a package, where the system is designed to provide cheap foreign labour.

    People would be surprised by what's going on in the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The cost of temp staff includes the cost of the agency's fees. Now that cost will always be above the cost of hiring staff direct. Surely employers will revert to doing their own hiring from now on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Apart from more beaurocracy to deal with the problem with this is that someone has to pay for all these new 'rights'. I wonder if you can guess who that will be? So all that will happen is that the hourly rate will drop to cover the costs that might be incurred by the employer. This just removes the choice that I currently have as if I wanted any of these benefits I could pay for them myself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    It's difficult to predict the impact of this. In some cases firms might be inclined to fill a post with a permanent employee, given that their cost is now reduced relative to agency workers: in others there might be a succession of agency workers each employed for 12 weeks. I suspect that it will depend on the nature of the work and how important experience gained on the job is to doing it well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I have employed agency workers many times in the past to help out with seasonal demand. Agencies provide me with great flexibility with minimal administration and responsibilty. If I am now to bear the same responsibility as for permanent staff, I shall have to think carefully. At the very least, I will make very sure that agency staff are let go before 12 weeks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    1.4 million agency workers should nervous, as fewer staff will be taken on. Spain's employment protection is so strong that employers don't hire permanent staff, so 25% of Spain's employees are casual, 25% out of work, and 50% youth unemployment. I hope the young - already struggling to find work - understand how much harm the CWU has done to their job prospects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I heard about this legislation 18 months ago and my first thought wasn't - finally, a pay raise - it was... how are they going to get out of this one because you know they will try their best to do so. Especially if you work in the public sector.

    We were supposed to have been told a month ago as to what our new terms / rates would be - unsurprisingly, we haven't heard a thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Sadly my experience of the New rules dont over come the termination
    contract just before job vacancies within the business are posted, a job i was doing that i could have applied for. Contempt for agency employers meant my employer terminated my contract with no notice at 18:50 with a phone call on the 2nd of December, even tho i was in reciept of a contract till the 23rd Dec.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Companys easily dodge these admirable attempts to give us temps a better deal. One company I've worked for as a 'company' temp on and off for years, has this winter stopped taking us on directly and now only does it through an outside agency to avoid this. Hence,we've lost our payed breaks,our shift allowance,only one days notice of termination now, and I'm on a worse wage than in the mid 1990s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Once again the European Union sign posts the way to ensuring a better quality of life for all its members.. But there is much more work to be done before the aim of the Tolpuddle Martyrs - decent working
    conditions for all workers- becomes a reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    One of the biggest exploiters of agency staff is a former state owned telecommunications company who hire and fire at will. I recall sitting there out performing permanent staff for far less wages. The cynic in me knows that they will find ways around this legislation which is long overdue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Surely companies won't stop employing someone if they need them, they will just have to recalculate the benefits of having that person as a permanent or temporary employee. And perhaps they will start to only employ temporary staff if they really want temporary staff and not because they are the equivalent of cheap labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I don't understand why everyone accepts things at face value, this is Britain under a conservative government, this will make little difference with the ballooning unemployment, do you suppose this could be enforced?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    As someone that used to do alot of work via an agency this is yet another disaster, every time rules to 'improve' things come into effect theres a massive drop in work avaliable via agencies. Quite frankly I'd rather go back to the "bad old days" 10 years ago when companies could hire/fire agency staff in a moment, at least then they'd take a punt on getting someone in without fear of 1000 rules.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Surely the 'Agency' is the employer. In other words agencies subcontract to the hiring company. So the agency should be responsible for holidays etc. Agency labour is only cheaper to hiring companies because their staff don't enjoy the same rights so it may mean more full time posts overall and less call on agencies.
    See how much, in real terms, agency worker cost the NHS for example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    All about rights, I see! What about responsibilities? Will the Government be implementing the Dilettante Part-time and Temporary Workers Directive, which requires Agency staff to show the same level of committment to their temporary employer as full time workers do. No, I suppose not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Just what the country needs when it is trying to get back on it's feet.
    More regulation from the Government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    At last .... equality for temp workers.

    It is good to see this discrimination being ended as if it were done on the basis of sex, creed or colour then many employers would have been locked up many years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Does this mean no more holding a threat of termination over the heads of workers due to a swollen pool of available labour, and requests for a fair wage, remuneration for overtime, company employee (not agency employee) status, and reasonable workloads? Companies have been ripping off workers for too long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Good to see this loophole being blocked.

    These staff have been treated like dirt, underpaid and under valued for years!


Page 12 of 13


More Business stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.