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First tranche of agency workers get equal pay and conditions

Christmas Eve 2011 saw the first tranche of agency workers completing 12 weeks in an assignment get the same pay and conditions as their permanent counterparts. So how will the new Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) affect the workplace in the long term?

From 1 October 2011, temporary workers have been entitled to the same employment and working conditions as comparable permanent staff after 12 weeks of service. While agency workers are starting to see the benefits,many smaller employers have criticised the administrative and cost burden that the new regulations have placed on them, citing the large amount of work required to ensure fair treatment under the new rules.

It's too early to say just what the long-term effects of the AWR will be on the hiring of temporary workers. Nevertheless, there are already concerns that cost alone may lead employers to significantly reduce the number of agency staff they use and take on full-time staff instead - which will in turn reduce the flexibility of their workforce. Experts also warn that many companies may seek to use the Swedish Derogation Model (SDM), which essentially makes the agency the worker's employer. Such a move could see agency costs rise in order to absorb the administrative and cost burden.

Acas is offering agency workers training to help hirers who book agency workers through a temporary worker agency (TWA) to familiarise themselves with this new legislation. There is also a series of regional events to explain the changes and enable employers to address their own particular issues in a safe and confidential environment.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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