The AWR (as amended) came into force on the 1 October 2011 and apply to agency workers who are assigned to do temporary work for hirers through temporary work agencies and give them certain rights.
There are two categories of rights:
- Day one rights – all agency workers have access to collective facilities and amenities including on-site canteens, childcare facilities and the provision of transport services, and also to information about the hirer's job vacancies that are available to all other employees.
- Twelve week rights – after completion of a twelve week qualifying period (whereby the agency worker undertakes the same role, whether on one or more assignments, with the same hirer for twelve continuous calendar weeks) agency workers are entitled to the same "basic working and employment conditions" as those enjoyed by other employees who have been directly employed by the hirer. These include conditions relating to pay, duration of working time, length of night work, annual leave, rest periods and rest breaks.
- The continuity of the twelve week qualifying period can be broken if the agency worker begins a new assignment with the same hirer (whether through the same or a different temporary work agency) where the work or duties that make up the whole or main part of that new role are substantively different from the work or duties that made up the whole or main part of their previous role. However, it is important to note that there is a presumption that the worker is working in the same role unless the agency provides a written description of the new work which the agency worker will be required to undertake.
- Continuity will also be broken where there is a break of at least six calendar weeks either during or between assignments. Where there is a break of less than six calendar weeks, continuity is merely suspended.
The AWR contain anti-avoidance provisions that prohibit hirers from using 11 week assignments or deliberately putting breaks into assignments in order to prevent agency workers from acquiring twelve week rights.
There are a range of tribunal claims that can be brought by agency workers for breach of the AWR by hirers within three months of the infringement or detriment (subject to a tribunal's ability to accept a claim out of time where it is "just and equitable" to do so).