The Government has also announced that the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 were to be reviewed before they are introduced in October 2011. The Regulations are complicated and have been criticised from various quarters including employers’ groups and other interested parties who feel the legislation is vague and ambiguous in parts. The Government has indicated that they are aware of the differing points of view and that they are considering how best to deal with this.

The Regulations are designed to give effect to European Directive 2008/104/EC (temporary agency work) and Member States must comply with this Directive by 5 December 2011. Consequently any alterations to the Regulations may well be minimal in order to avoid the danger of leaving the legislation open to challenge on the basis that it does not properly implement the Directive.

The main provision is the requirement to provide agency workers with a right to equal treatment in relation to basic terms and conditions including pay after 12 weeks on an assignment

Pay will essentially mean basic pay plus other contractual entitlements directly linked to the work undertaken by the agency worker whilst on the assignment.

The Regulations include provisions to counter avoidance techniques such as moving an agency worker to another assignment or ending their engagement and re-engaging them to avoid them obtaining 12 weeks' service.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this review is and we will provide details of any changes to the current proposals once they are available.