In contrast with April 2011, when we saw a number of changes to employment law, there are fewer this autumn. Few they may be but the changes are no less significant.

Agency Worker rights improve

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 come into force.

There has been a long introductory period to these Regulations, which have been anticipated since 2008, and much written about their potential implications. At their heart the Regulations seek to ensure equality of basic pay and benefits for agency workers as against directly employed counterparts. This not only includes pay, holiday leave entitlement and eligibility for some bonus payments after 12 weeks on assignment but access to collective facilities (such as a staff canteen) from day one.

For an overview of the Regulations Eversheds has produced a guidance for clients, “Responding to the agency workers regulations 2010: An overview for employers”

Click here to view this document.

Being subject to a 12 week qualifying period, the majority of new rights under the Regulations will not take effect until Christmas. Institutions hiring agency labour nonetheless need to take care that they apply immediately the handful of “day one” rights, operational from the first day of assignment. These include access to collective facilities but also access to information about job vacancies.

A number of recent surveys published in the press provide conflicting statistics as to the likely impact of the Regulations upon future use of agency labour, some suggesting usage will be affected adversely, others quite the opposite.  In fact there are many unknowns surrounding these Regulations. The coming months are therefore likely to reveal much in terms of how they are being applied in practice, such as whether any preferred business models emerge, as well as how some of the less precisely drafted terms are interpreted. Even those hiring institutions who have been “on the ball” and prepared well for October would therefore be well advised to keep their approach to the Regulations under regular review as the law develops.

National Minimum Wage rises

The standard rate (for workers aged 21 and over) will increase to £6.08 per hour;

The rate for workers aged 18 to 20 will increase to £4.98 per hour;

The young workers rate (for workers above compulsory school age but under 18) will increase to £3.68 per hour;

The rate for certain apprentices (those in their first year or aged under 19) will increase to £2.60 per hour.