The Government has announced that legislation implementing EU Directive 2008/104/EC, usually referred to as the ‘Agency Workers Directive’, will not come into force in the UK until October 2011.
At the recent TUC conference, the Prime Minister pledged that the legislation would be on the statute books within the next few months. Some people took this to mean that the measures would be introduced sooner than 5 December 2011, the latest date by which EU member countries must incorporate the provisions of the Directive into national law. As it is, the new law will take effect just two months prior to the deadline. Business Minister Pat McFadden explained that the Government is ‘mindful of the need to avoid changing requirements on business until the economic recovery is more firmly established’ and that the delay will afford ‘recruiters and their clients time to prepare and plan’.
The effect of the 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). In the UK, agency workers will acquire these rights once they have been in a given job for 12 weeks.
Other 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.
Following an earlier consultation on policy, the Government has now launched a consultation on detailed proposals for the implementation of the Directive into UK law. The draft regulations can be found at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file53058.pdf. Consultation closes on 11 December 2009.
The Government has also proposed that these rights should not apply to limited company contractors, self-employed people and managed service workers etc. Watch this space!