Thursday, 29 September 2011

Agency Workers Regulations - a quick guide

The Agency Workers Regulations will come into force next month, and while it may not be the most exciting topic of discussion, it is hugely important for Agency Workers and the companies that hire them to understand how they will be affected.

The aim here is not to explain every intricate detail of the regulations, but to give an overview of what you need to be aware of.

As of 1 October 2011, the new Agency Workers Regulations come into force, with the aim of giving agency workers the entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly – if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job.

What does this mean for Agency Workers?

As an Agency Worker, you will be entitled to use the workplace’s facilities (such as canteen, childcare facilities etc.) and get information on job vacancies from the first day of your assignment.  After 12 weeks in the same job, you will be entitled to equal treatment in:

·         Pay
·         Holidays
·         Night work
·         Rest periods/breaks
·         Duration of working time

The regulations are not back-dated – any time spent on an assignment before 1 October 2011 will not count towards the 12 week qualifying.

Pregnant Agency Workers

After completing the 12 week qualifying period, pregnant agency workers will be allowed paid time off for ante-natal appointments during an assignment.

What does this mean for a hirer of Agency Workers?

If you are employing (or planning on employing) temporary Agency Workers through an agency, you should provide the agency with up to date information on your terms and conditions so that they can ensure that the agency worker receives the correct equal treatment, as if they had been recruited directly, after 12 weeks in the same job.

The hirer is responsible for ensuring that all agency workers can access your facilities and are able to view information on your job vacancies from the first day of their assignment with you.

For a much more in-depth look at the regulations, the information provided by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills is particularly thorough.  If you have any questions about AWR, please feel free to email us at for advice.

Chris Johnstone


Black and white with shades of grey

With an Indian summer (well a couple of days of sunshine!) spreading warmth and happiness into our lives, we could be forgiven for being distracted from the ever gloomier headlines in the financial press in the past few weeks.  Admittedly, trouble in the Eurozone and the influence of minority parties in Finland on Greece receiving it’s bailout money is a tad abstract for most of us in our everyday lives but in our globalised world, these issues are as important as those being discussed by our own leaders in party conference season right now.  I was fascinated to listen to the Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Spencer Dale giving a speech to local business leaders in the past few days and his take on what is happening in the UK and world economy.

Chatham House rules mean that I won’t go into the specifics here, but the event itself gained quite a bit of publicity and quite a few of Spencer’s comments are in the public domain.  One of the overriding themes of his talk was the hugely important role that confidence plays in dictating the economic outlook.  Of course, market confidence has a direct bearing on share prices but Spencer talked at length about business confidence as a whole and the vicious circle of businesses stockpiling cash, expecting worse times ahead with the knock on effect of holding back investment which in turn could stimulate the economy.

From our own point of view, we have certainly seen instances of this in the past year – valuable staff leaving and not being replaced, the ever growing use of interims over permanent staff by cautious firms and specific projects being put on hold being prime examples but I must say that this only paints half of the picture.  We have been (pleasantly!) surprised in 2011 by both the volume and in some cases, the unexpected sources of recruitment in the North of England.  Firstly, from our own experience, public sector recruitment has not ground to a shuddering halt, which is not do diminish the devastating effect that redundancies are having on the region and on those personally affected.

We have also seen a steady rise in recruitment at the top end of the market, specifically in the £50k+ salary bracket.  Often these have been positions that have been left unfilled for a couple of years or more and indeed we have seen a number of new positions being created within organisations at this level which runs contrary to the idea that no new investment is happening.  As is so often the case in recent years, the picture is far from black and white – whilst some businesses are tightening their belts, others are loosening the purse strings and there is no hard and fast pattern to this. 


Just as a quick aside for all you football supporting HR professionals out there given events of recent days.  Your star employee refuses point blank to come in to work, you suspend him while an investigation into his conduct takes place.  In any normal workplace, the result is.....answers on an (e-)postcard please!

Gareth Harrison

Managing Consultant