The Government has passed the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2011 to amend the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (the "Regulations") which come into force on 1 October 2011. The Regulations give agency workers who have worked for a hirer for a qualifying period of 12 weeks the same rights to pay, benefits, rest periods and holidays as someone recruited directly by the hirer.
There are three amendments:
- The definition of 'agency worker' has been amended so that the worker does not need to be working for the work agency itself to qualify for the rights.
- There has been a clarification of the 'Swedish derogation'. This misapplies the principle of equal treatment regarding pay (although the workers will still be entitled to equal treatment in other respects) where a work agency provides a worker with a permanent contract of employment with minimum requirements and pays them a minimum amount between assignments when they are not working for a hirer. The amendments change the requirements of Regulation 10(1) (c) which stipulate how the contract must be performed during periods when the worker is not working for a hirer if it is to be valid, so that the derogation only applies after the end of the first assignment.
- The Regulation which enables work agencies to avoid liability for a breach of the Regulations by the hirer provided it takes reasonable steps to obtain information about the hirer's terms and conditions has been slightly amended.