In a lightly reported statement on the 5th July The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed to the House of Commons that the Government is reviewing the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which are due to come into force on 1st October 2011.
The regulations currently provide for equal treatment for agency workers in respect of basic working and employment conditions after 12 weeks in an assignment and will see a fundamental shift in the relationship between the hirer, the agency and the worker.
The regulations if implemented in the current understood format are complex but the devil will be in the detail. Employers’ groups have taken issue with some of the requirements and other commentators have criticised the drafting as unclear and open to different interpretations in places.
Earlier this year a Parliamentary committee also criticised some of the drafting and recommended it be amended.
Agencies and organisations using agency workers should still be on their guard. The regulations are intended to implement the European Directive on temporary agency work (2008/104/EC), which must be implemented by all Member States by 5 December 2011 so room for manoeuvre and interpretation is limited. The UK Government must ensure that it properly implements the directive’s requirements and has no discretion to depart from these in our domestic legislation.
Any amendments to the regulations are therefore likely to be relatively minor, because any that risk going beyond the parameters laid down by the directive are likely to be subject to legal challenge in the future.
“Hirers unfamiliar with the regulations are recommended to familiarise themselves with the general content of the regulations and to begin to analyse the likely impact and to take independent advice” said Chris Slay of Skills Provision. “What is surprising is the lack of general advice from the High Street Agencies many of whom seem unaware of the likely impact on their day to day business.”
Author: Peter Arkwright
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