Agency workers receive pay and conditions boost

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

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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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    #71 If you're making £5 ph 'more' than permanent staff I suspect you're referring to a different kind of freelance temping work. In my experience of working as a temp since the 1990s,not once have I in made more money than permanent staff (most of whom are on £12+ph compared to the £6.20 or so temps get) who tactically trundle along for double the wage while us temps end up taking up the slack.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    If a temporary worker is signed with a legitimate agency, the agency is their employer. As 'middle-men' reputable agencies seek feed-back from both sides to maintain their integrity.

    If a new temp is 'unsuitable' after a few assignments, their work dries up. Equally, if an employer behaves badly, their reputation travels fast.

    I fail to see how this legislation would affect any of the above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    start looking for a better employer or ask your agency to find you one would be most inteligent peoples reply.
    If pe3ople just say no to such emplyers in the end they will have to change or accept at best they will onoly ever get the less able of dilligent workers in their chase for money over people

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Yo, two immoderate moderations, thank you aunty Beeb.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    For too long agency staff have been the legitimised element of a type of disposable slavery in the UK. At last the abuse is being recognised and more to the point; addressed. However. I'm sure that the agencies who collaborate in this murky world will already have circumvented the regulations, these despicable people always do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    @75 This loophole is protected and there are serious fines and implications for companies found in breach of these regulations. They cannot have a temp for 12 weeks, sack them and then get another temp to do the same or broadly similar role. These regulations have been badly reported and are quite misleading for the majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

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

    Tut tut! The workers ARE a part of this country and should also be helped back on their feet ... you would rather keep them on their knees?
    Would you be happy if the Government de-regulated the laws on theft, violence, traffic etc.
    Regulations are there to PROTECT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I currently work for an agency and have done so in the past as well. I chose to work in this way as the flexibility suits me. Agency staff should only have the same rights as fully contracted staff if they bear the same responsibilities. I can currently pick and chose what hours I work, permanent staff cannot. It seems absurd that permanent staff should have fewer entitlements than I.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    now im myself am an agency worker im 19 and a male, now i chose to work as an agency worker instead of signing on and becoming yet another statistic on the youth unemployment, This seems a good idea but all the companies are going to do is take someone on for 10 weeks then get rid off them and take another temp on, this is unfair, there's still not enough rights as a temp,

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    As an agency worker, I finished my shift yesterday and was told that I would no longer be required. How long till we see the old sign "Hands Wanted" as job adverts?
    Merry Christmas to all. Ho Ho Ho :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Reading a lot of the entries, most British companies look short term compared with a lot of companies abroad, say in Germany where working condition have always been better and they still export more manufactured good than we do even in the current condition. Unfortunately British management always like to slag of their work force and the unions to cover for their own inefficiency's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I have been a Freelancer for the last 10 years, and never once has holiday pay or entitlement been a part of my wage package, but that said, my pay rates are usually £5 above the "Employed" for doing the same job, typically £20 an Hour as opposed to £15.
    I am more than happy to do short term assignments it gives a good variation to the work and makes for less boredom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Yes without a doubt anything cheap and cheerful does tend to be made in the far east
    However what we still have is skills its why even the rich Chinese don't buy Chinese they buy European (including the UK) products because of the quality.
    chinas USP is cheapness ours needs to be quality first quality second quality always thats adds the value that qualifies the price premium

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    i would love to know how exactly this new law can be enforced? i have been working for an agency for the past 4 months. the company i have been assigned to seen the new laws coming and started issuing temps with a zero hour contract which offered worse conditions/pay than the agency contract. They simply said accept our new contract or we wont have you back! Illegal, yes, but what can a tp wkr do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I work for one of the bigger "high street" agencies and people saying that all temporary workers should be worried about their jobs and lack of future vacancies are very wide of the mark! We still have temporary bookings coming in on a daily basis, all it now means is that the costs are much more transparent for the client. Temps are better protected then ever before if working through an agency!

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    When I worked in the Civil Service the temp staff were sacked every six months for one day and had to re-apply for their jobs. These workers worked for years and years in the same jobs, there was never any real problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.


    What a wonderful country we live in, when employers threaten: Rather than treat agency workers fairly we'd rather not employ them at all."

    Indeed, that's the sad thing. If employers were fair towards staff there would be very little need for any employment legislation of any sort. Something of an own-goal by the employers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Bring in as many rules to protect workers rights as you like but if all the jobs have gone to other countries were it's cheaper to hire and fire staff, what's the point?


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