The Agency Workers Regulations 2011 come into force on 1 October 2011. For those defined as ‘agency workers’ there will be an equal treatment principle that states: ‘an agency worker will be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as [the worker] would have been entitled to for doing the same job had [the worker] been recruited by the hirer other than by using the services of a temporary work agency and at the time the qualifying period commenced’.
Areas where equal treatment is to be expected include:
- the duration of working time, rest periods, night work, paid holidays and public holidays;
- work done by pregnant women and nursing mothers, children and young people;
- action taken to combat discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disabilities, age or sexual orientation; and
- access to on-site facilities.
In addition to the principle of equal treatment, other elements of the regulations address unnecessary restrictions and prohibitions on the use of agency work. The regulations follow similar directives on fixed-term and part-time work (which were based on European social partner agreements).