The Agency Workers Regulations: Nine months on
In October 2011, the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) came into force, giving agency workers equal working and employment conditions with the employees of a client firm after a 12-week qualification period. At the time, some employers were concerned about the potential extra cost, compliance and administrative burdens. But have their fears been realised?
The latest Employment Trends Survey carried out by the CBI and Harvey Nash, covering 319 businesses and a total workforce of 1.9 million people, found that almost half of firms (46%) report that their business has been affected. Some 57% said they have reduced their use of agency workers and one in twelve firms (8%) have stopped use them entirely.
According to the survey, more than a third of companies (36%) are turning to fixed-term contracts instead, while 27% have sidestepped the requirements for equal pay by adopting the Swedish Derogation Model (SDM). This is where agencies pay workers between assignments, effectively becoming their permanent employers.
Rather than use agency workers, one in seven firms (15%) has hired self-employed people, who are unaffected by the regulations, and one in six (17%) has asked existing employees to put in more overtime work.
Employers hiring agency workers must ensure that they can use facilities, such as the staff canteen or childcare facilities and can access information on job vacancies from the first day of their assignment. Agency workers are entitled to certain rights, including paid annual leave, rest breaks and the National Minimum Wage.