Initial reactions have often been to look at radically changing resourcing models. However following more detailed analysis of current pay rate and methods for establishing the right comparisons, hirers have found that implementing equal treatment measures do not necessarily entail the significant impact on direct costs that were initially envisaged.
The extent that the regulations do impact on direct costs will determined the need to look at possible new structures and ways of sourcing and managing agency staffing requirements. An effective impact assessment is the first stage of the planning process and should kick-start a process of regular dialogue and active engagement between employers and their recruitment providers.
What are the Agency Worker Regulations?
The Regulations stem from the EU Temporary Workers Directive 2008 which gives agency workers the right to the same pay and other working conditions enjoyed by a hirer’s own workers.
This means that an agency worker will be entitled to “equal treatment” once they have completed 12 weeks’ of service in the same role with the same hirer, there are two exceptions however, the “Day One rights” which they are entitled to from the first day of the assignment with the hirer.
“Day One” rights
Firstly, hirers must inform agency workers of existing vacancies in their organisation. Hirers do not have to actively seek out each agency worker and tell them individually of the vacancies but they must ensure that they have the same access to information about vacancies as other workers.
Secondly, agency workers will also be entitled to access collective on-site facilities such as crèche and childcare facilities, canteen facilities, car parking and the provision of transport services. However, access to facilities can be refused if there are ‘objective grounds’ for doing so. In practice this means that if there is a waiting list for childcare facilities or a car park space, an agency worker is not automatically entitled to a place but can be subject to the same criteria to access the facility as someone directly recruited by the hirer.
What does “Equal Treatment” mean?
Agency workers will be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions after 12 weeks of service in the same role with the same hirer. The entitlements include pay, duration of working time, night work, rest periods, rest breaks and annual leave.
The definition of pay includes holiday pay, shift allowances, unsociable hours premia, overtime rates, vouchers and stamps with a fixed monetary value and bonuses directly related to quantity and quality of the work carried out.
What is excluded from the entitlement?
The Regulations will not change the employment status of agency workers, therefore they will still not have the right to claim for unfair dismissal, redundancy pay or maternity leave which are entitlements reserved for employees. Nor will agency workers be entitled to benefits such as occupational sick pay, company pension schemes, share options schemes, loans, expenses, health/life insurance, financial participation schemes and bonus payments based upon organisational or company performance.
These are considered a reflection of a long term relationship between an employee and an employer. Agency workers will therefore remain a flexible labour resource for hirers.
Finally, many hirers worry that the Regulations mean that if an agency worker is paid more than their own employees they will have to either decrease their rate of pay to that of employees or increase the rate of pay to employees. Neither of these is true. The Regulations provide for equal treatment for agency workers when their pay is lower and they do not enjoy the same level of working conditions as comparable employees or workers.
How can White Horse Employment help you?
To assist hirers, we have put together a briefing on the Regulations, detailing some of the intricacies and how they may effect them, for more information, click here.
If you have any queries with regards to the Agency Workers Regulations, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01225 777157 and we will be more than happy to help.