Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) published its draft Agency Workers Guidance on 1 April 2011, which aims to provide further guidance to organisations that use agency workers.

Key points contained in the draft guidance include:

  • new guidance on the implications of the Regulations where an agency worker is engaged through multiple agencies or engaged to work for multiple hirers. The draft guidance makes clear that responsibility for ensuring the equal treatment of agency workers may lie with more than one party in circumstances involving multiple parties, e.g. a master or neutral vendor company, a staffing company and an umbrella company;
  • more detailed guidance on the calculation of the 12-week qualifying period and the circumstances in which a gap or "substantively different" change in role will break the qualifying period and the requirements for re-starting the qualifying period after a break;
  • guidance on the concept of "pay" under the Regulations and the exemptions from the equal treatment principle (e.g. the guidance confirms that, where an agency is in a position to offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the worker between assignments, there is an exemption from equal treatment provisions).

BIS has invited interested parties to submit comments on the draft guidance until 15 April 2011. It is expected that the final version of the Guidance will be published shortly thereafter, and we will report more fully on the final version of the guidance in due course.