New rights for agency workers come into force on October 1 2011 and will affect all employers that use temporary agency workers, whether as cover for employee absence or for specific projects. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has recently finalised its non-statutory guidance on the Agency Worker Regulations.

All employers that use agency workers must be aware of their obligations from October. An employer must provide agency staff with comparable access to collective facilities and information about vacancies. Moreover, once the worker has completed 12 weeks of the assignment, ignoring time before October 1 2011, the employer must confirm to the relevant agency the pay and certain other employment conditions that the worker would have received if he or she had been recruited directly.

It is for the agency to pay the worker at the right level, but hirers will need to ensure that they provide the right information. They will need to assess how much of their remuneration package comes within the definition of 'pay' and, where this includes a performance-related bonus, how to appraise agency worker performance.

The next few months are likely to see agencies approaching hirers to discuss revising their standard terms of engagement in view of the increased costs and risks.

A copy of the guidance is available on the department's website.

For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Brown at Herbert Smith LLP by telephone (+44 20 7374 8000), fax (+44 20 7374 0888) or email ([email protected]).