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From the beginning of this week, agency workers’ rights have been expanded as part of the government’s Good Work Plan.

To help guide agency workers through these changes, as well as highlight their pre-existing rights, the REC and TUC have worked together to produce a factsheet for them.

It also contains tips for choosing a compliant recruitment agency and steps they can take if they have a complaint. This will help to protect and empower these workers moving forward, even during these times of crisis, says the REC and TUC.

As of 6th April 2020, the provisions in the Agency Workers Regulations known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ that previously allowed agency workers to be paid between assignments, instead of receiving equal pay after working for 12 weeks for the same client in the same role, will now be unlawful.

Other changes include:

  • Agency workers are now entitled to a ‘Key Information Document’ when they register with an employment business, outlining essential information such as the type of contract they are on, the identity of the business paying them, their pay rate and holiday entitlements and other benefits.
  • Agency workers are now entitled to a ‘Written statement of particulars’ no later than day one of their employment, setting out the key terms and conditions that apply between the worker and their employer.

Although not covered in the factsheet, the REC and TUC state that during the Coronavirus outbreak it is important that agency workers, employers and employment agencies understand the support available to them.

If work is not available due to the current situation, agencies can apply to furlough workers and utilise the 80% wage subsidy available through the Job Retention Scheme. It is therefore vital that the government quickly provides clarity on how the scheme applies to agencies and their workers, and ensures that agencies have sufficient cashflow to meet their obligations in this very difficult time.

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Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said, “The REC is proud to stand up for both recruitment agencies and agency workers, who do vital work supporting every sector of the UK economy. It is essential that agency workers are aware of their rights, and we hope that this factsheet will help them to make informed decisions about their jobs. Importantly, we would also urge recruitment agencies to share this factsheet with their workers to increase transparency around their rights and pay.

“Once we get through the current crisis, government must continue the work to increase compliance by regulating umbrella companies, and extending the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate’s remit to include them. This would allow agency workers to bring complaints against non-compliant umbrella companies, as they can with recruitment agencies.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, added, “Trade union campaigning has won stronger rights for agency workers. Pay Between Assignment contracts will be abolished from April, which should lead to agency workers getting a much-deserved pay increase.

“We want all agency workers to know about these new rights, and other important rights like equal pay rules and holiday entitlement. So we hope our joint factsheet with the REC will be shared far and wide – to workers, employment agencies and the firms that use them. Between us we can make sure that agencies and agency workers know these rights, deliver them and get the benefits.”

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