Agency Workers Regulations

The relationship between employees and their employer is becoming an area of greater focus, with many employees no longer working a traditional 9-5 role. Employers, therefore, need to be aware of their obligations to such staff, and especially the regulations in place. One form of employment – agency workers – epitomises this need for awareness of regulations.

Agency workers work temporarily for a client or employer and are often hired by an agency for a specific period. Such workers are entitled to mainstream benefits such as annual holiday, and the national minimum wage.

U.K. Agency Workers Directive 2011

The U.K’s Agency Workers Directive of 2011 further enshrined such employer obligations. The directive has aimed to provide agency workers with the same rights as permanent staff doing the same job. After 12 weeks in an assignment, agency workers are entitled to the same benefits as other full-time employees.

The following rights are covered by the regulations:

  • Pay: Workers are entitled to receive at least the National Minimum Wage.
  • Paid Annual Leave: Workers who have worked for longer than 12 weeks are also entitled to paid annual leave.
  • Rest breaks: Like permanent employees, agency workers are entitled to have breaks during their working day.

As well as the above more obvious rights agency workers are due, less obvious ones such as the same access to staff facilities like canteens, and permission to attend ante-natal appointments are also covered. The directive, however, does not include occupational sick pay.

Employers wishing to employ agency workers as an alternative to full-time staff need to, therefore, realise that such workers also have an array of benefits and entitlements for the full-time staff. It also pays to keep up to date with any changes in the regulations as any organisation or employer not following the regulations could face a £5000 penalty plus any loss of earnings.