The Coalition Government has announced that legislation implementing EU Directive 2008/104/EC, usually referred to as the ‘Agency Workers Directive’, will come into force in the UK on 1 October 2011 without any changes.
The Government was considering making amendments to the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 in order to reduce the burden on employers. However, according to Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey, the Government’s ability to do so is constrained by the fact that the Regulations are based to a significant degree on an agreement brokered between the CBI and TUC by the previous Administration. There was specific agreement that agency workers in the UK would acquire the new rights once they have been in a given job for 12 weeks.
Mr Davey said, “Due to this unique legal situation, any amendments proposed to the Regulations touching upon the subject matter of the CBI and TUC agreement, which did not have the agreement of those parties, would face the risk of being set aside in the Courts in the event of a legal challenge. Were that to happen, the effect could be to call into question the very foundation for the fundamentals of the implementing legislation, crucially including the 12-week qualifying period itself.”
After discussions with the CBI and the TUC, it has not been possible to find a way forward that would be acceptable to both parties.
The effect of the Agency Workers Regulations will be to provide equal treatment for temporary agency workers, compared with permanent workers, in terms of basic working and employment conditions (including pay, holidays, working time, rest periods and maternity leave) once they have worked for the qualifying period of 12 weeks.
Benefits that agency workers will gain from the first day of their assignment include:
information about vacancies so that they have the same opportunity as other workers to find permanent employment;
equal access to on-site facilities, such as child care and transport services; and
improved rights to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers, including the right to reasonable time off work to attend ante-natal appointments and adjustments to working conditions and working hours.