What are the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR)?

(4 minutes to read)

This article primarily addresses the AWR from a worker’s perspective. If you are looking for information about how AWR affects your business – whether as an end client hirer or as an organisation like a recruitment agency or umbrella company – we have further information here.

The Agency Workers Regulations (2010), implemented to comply with EU legislation, are a set of rules governing the treatment of temporary or contract staff and the rights they are afforded in the workplace. The regulations are designed to protect contractors and temporary workers who are employed (or hold a similar contract) with an intermediary, such as a recruitment agency or umbrella company. It does not cover workers who;

  • Are employed under managed service contracts
  • Are self-employed
  • Work under the supervision of the agency (as opposed to the hirer)

The legislation is split into two parts – ‘day one’ rights, which apply immediately upon commencement of a temporary role, and rights after twelve weeks.

 Day one rights

Under the legislation, hirers must immediately afford temporary workers certain rights, in line with those of permanent staff. These are;

  • Access to canteen facilities and staff common areas
  • Equal access to staff transport arrangements and car parking
  • Access to company childcare facilities
  • Equal use of prayer rooms and similar religious facilities
  • Notice of any relevant job vacancies open to permanent staff

Twelve-week rights

Once twelve calendar weeks of engagement have elapsed, additional rights are afforded to temporary workers. These twelve qualifying weeks are broken if the worker is engaged by a different hirer, takes on a new and substantively different role with the current hirer, or takes a six-week break from the role (unless through illness, jury service or parental leave). The twelve-week rights are;

  • Equality of pay with comparable permanent workers – including performance-related bonuses and commissions
  • Equality of working hours – i.e. a temporary worker cannot be compelled to work longer hours than permanent colleagues in an analogous role
  • Equality of working times – that is, unusual working schedules, night work or shift work not required of analogous permanent staff
  • Equality of leave entitlement – an agency worker should accrue annual leave or holiday pay in line with permanent staff
  • Time off for antenatal appointments if pregnant, and a reasonable reallocation of duties if pregnancy renders the current role unsuitable or potentially harmful

Certain elements of permanent employee contracts are not covered by the AWR, including;

  • Participation in share offerings, profit-share schemes and long-term monetary or non-monetary incentives
  • Non-performance related bonuses
  • Non-statutory parental pay entitlements
  • Non-statutory sick pay
  • Redundancy pay

 What if I suspect I am not being afforded my rights under the AWR?

If you believe you’re not being treated fairly and comparably to analogous permanent staff, you can make a written request for information to the agency which engages you. If the agency does not do so within four weeks, you may then make a request directly to the hirer.

Although it is punishable by law to fail to comply with these requests, a failure to respond is looked upon very unfavourably by employment tribunals if proceedings reach that stage.

Exceptions to AWR

It is possible for temporary workers to forfeit their rights to equal pay – although not any of the other day one or twelve-week rights outlined above – under the Swedish Derogation model, which is sometimes employed by recruitment agencies, umbrella companies and similar intermediary engagers of temporary workers.

In return, the worker is entitled to be paid between temporary assignments for a period of up to four weeks, at a reduced rate of pay.

For further information on the Swedish Derogation model, we have a more detailed article here. If you have a question about AWR please contact Sophie Lewis on 01206 591 000 or email sophie.lewis@contractorumbrella.com.

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