Employers largely unprepared for Agency Workers Regulations


This October, the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) will come into force and provide temporary workers with rights similar to those of permanent employees. Although almost 70% of employers are aware of the changes ahead, only 10% have planned for them. That is according to the latest Jobs Outlook Survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Some argue that agency workers have long suffered from a lack of protection and for them the AWR will provide welcome safeguards in areas including paid holiday, working hours, overtime and maternity after 12 weeks continuous work. On the other hand many employers see agency workers as a flexible and valuable resource in meeting their temporary employment needs and view the AWR as an unnecessary and burdensome additional layer of regulation and potential liability and an obstacle to employment.

Agency Workers Regulation – Employment law advice

"Unsurprisingly when new employment regulations are on the horizon, opinions are divided as to the impact on businesses and the benefits to employees," said an employment lawyer of law firm Simpson Millar LLP. "However what is clear is that any business that employs agency workers should consider the implications and possibilities of the new regulations in the coming months and ensure that they are fully prepared for them."

The CBI has criticised the AWR for simply adding cost and increasing the administrative burden on employers. However research from the CIPD and REC suggests that as little as 13% of temporary workers would see an improvement in their pay and benefits package as a result of the AWR .

Pay and benefits aside: the AWR do not affect the question of against whom, if anyone, an agency worker can pursue claims such as unlawful deductions, breach of contract and unfair dismissal. A claimant will still have to show that he or she had a direct contractual relationship with the respondent and in the case of an unfair dismissal claim that they had been an employee of either the agency or end user for at least 12 months. Similarly the AWR should not affect the steps that employers can take to guard against the risks of such claims.

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