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 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 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 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 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.


Comments 5 of 7


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