Just rumours: Agency Workers Regulations don’t turn temporary workers into employees overnight

By | March 23, 2011

Ronald DrakeBy Ron Drake, Partner at Cobbetts

Despite recent rumours from anti-EU circles to the contrary, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (which come into force on 1 October 2011) do not have cataclysmic consequences for the temporary labour market.

1. Temporary workers can’t claim unfair dismissal

The Regulations do not magically turn temporary workers into employees overnight. They don’t enable them to claim unfair dismissal if their assignments and engagements are terminated, unless they are already employees of the employer, hirer or agency.

2. Temps are entitled to the same pay and holidays as employees

They do qualify after 12 weeks engagement with the same hirer for treatment in terms of pay and holidays “as if” they were employees. Attempts to get round these rights by inserting artificial breaks and interruptions between assignments are curtailed by anti avoidance rules. However, the period can be legitimately interrupted by assignments on substantively different tasks to those of earlier assignments.

3. Temporary workers don’t get all employee rights

Not all rights and benefits normally recognisable as employee rights can be claimed by temps under the Regulations, which express as many exclusions from pay and leave rights as definitions of what is included.

4. There is no proper mechanism for policing the Agency Workers Regulations

The Regulations are not without some teeth in that that breach can land agents and employers in Employment Tribunal proceedings pursued by aggrieved agency workers and breaches can give rise to semi punitive awards of up to £5,000. However, other than action taken by workers themselves, there is otherwise no mechanism for policing the Regulations (like an enforcement body).

The Agency Workers Regulations won’t change things drastically but with new research showing that only 7% of employers have conducted an impact assessment, are they adequately prepared? And what will be the impact (if any) on agencies and agency workers?

5 thoughts on “Just rumours: Agency Workers Regulations don’t turn temporary workers into employees overnight

  1. Kev

    Rumours are that Jaguar/Land Rover/BMW have implemented a lower wage structure on the same pay as their agency workforce. All that the AWD* will do will cost them a few extra holidays. If this is correct the AWD* is not worth the paper it is written on. As an agency worker I work a lot harder than full time workers, have no time off even if I am ill, get charged more than full time workers in the canteen, save my holidays in case I get laid off.

    I do not want to be an agency worker and when I started 5 yrs ago I was told I could apply for a full time job in six months. This was a lie. 30 months later they set 40 people on who mainly consisted of friends, family or if you supported the same football team as your supervisor. Nothing to do with your work ability. By the way I forgot to mention I have been in motor manufacturing nearly all my life and being made redundant because of a plant closure after 18 yrs.

    (*We believe Kev is referring to the Agency Workers Regulations 2010)

  2. margaret Argent

    I have been a temp for the past year, and was promised when I took on the job, that I would be made permanent after 3 months, this never happened. On Friday 30th September 2011, I was informed by my agency that my temporary contract was terminated and was only given the reason of Business requirements. I had to leave the employer that day! So much for this new Temporary Workers Rights being a benefit, I lost my job due to it!!

  3. alan

    Jaguar have not as yet made any moves ( I’m an agency worker at Halewood) we get 80% so far of the full time employees and are under Manpower agency.
    I’m sure before the 12 weeks are up they will both stich us up using the Swedish clause,but I’m also sure that all the agency workers who joined the union upon entering the site will cancel their subs asap as its quite obvious they ( unite reps) are keeping clear of the situation.
    To all intents and purposes agency workers even union members will be left to swing in the wind.

    Open your mouth as an agency worker as the union will not represent you, you will very quickly be “reassigned ” to another job fruit picking or the like. at 6 ph. be wary!
    It will be seen if UNITE does what it says on the tin come January.

  4. Steve

    I also work at Halewood and find the whole situation less than satisfactory.
    When joining we were told by Unite representatives that it was a ‘closed site’ and effectively forced to join the Union.
    We were told that we would be on 80% for a year, receive the same pay rise as Jaguar employees in October, then 90% for a year, then eventually ‘catch-up’ if offered a full contract after 2 years.
    We actually received the same percentage wage increase ( not monetary value) in October, so are effectively earning less than 80% of the Jaguar workers standing next to us on the line.
    It is rumoured that a percentage of Manpower workers will be offered 12 month contracts in January and the others ( mostly those who started after April 2011) will be offered another 12 month Manpower contract – again contrary to Unite’s assurances.
    We have received no indications on rates of pay or holiday allowances for next year and there’s only 5 working days left.
    We are ‘Manpower Mushrooms’ – kept in the dark and fed manure!

  5. Matt

    I work for Randstad inhouse services at Caterpillar in Desford. From my understanding, the Agency Workers Regulations were designed to give temporary workers more rights and job security. In actuality, Caterpillar have used it as an incentive to replace all of the temporary staff on site. Recently, they boasted on ITV News that they had created 300 new jobs at Desford. What they had done, is convert 300 temporary workers to permanent. The remainder of the temporary workforce are due to be replaced in its entirety by apprentices from the Birmingham Metropolitan College for a third of the wages.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if there had been any degree of honesty in proceedings. 6 Months ago, in order to get the skills academy set up, Caterpillar had to get a certain percentage of the workforce to sign up for the academy themselves. They were promised a qualification in engineering. Now, for employees to achieve 100% of the pay grade, they need to have completed the academy course. When they get the time to go into the academy is not yet set, the temporary workers are unlikely to receive the pay increase or the qualification.

    All the while that this has been in the pipeline, the Factory Manager and the other senior managers both at Randstad and Caterpillar have been telling us we will not be replaced by apprentices. The last time we were told this was 5 days before we were then told we were going to be replaced. We will receive 5 days notice before our last shift this could happen at any time in the next 12 months.

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