Guidance published on new agency worker regulations

The Government has issued guidelines on how employers should approach the new rules governing the rights of temporary workers.

The regulations, which implement the EU Agency Workers’ Directive of 2008, come into effect on 1 October 2011.

The rights were agreed between the last government, the CBI and the TUC but had been the subject of further scrutiny by the present administration.

However, the Government has decided that introducing any reforms would create too many problems.

The new rules will give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by a company, if and when they complete a 12-week qualifying period in a job.

Fears were that any amendments to the legislation would jeopardise that 12-week qualifying period.

Announcing the guidance, Edward Davey, the Employment Relations Minister, said: “The Agency Workers Regulations have been on the statute book since January 2010 and followed negotiations between the CBI and TUC. We looked carefully at the possibility of amending the Regulations to address employers’ concerns but were forced to conclude that we could not do so without putting the 12-week qualifying period at risk. This qualification period is something that is a key flexibility that we know is vital to business.

“Our focus therefore has been providing the best possible guidance to help everyone affected understand these regulations. We have collaborated with key organisations including employment agencies, employers, trade unions and representative bodies to develop this guidance and I believe the resulting document will help prepare everyone for the forthcoming changes.”

Generally, businesses welcomed the guidelines.

Kevin Green, the chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: “There has been a genuine effort to take on board the concerns of recruitment agencies and to clarify how these regulations will work in practice. Agency work plays a vital role within our economy. Limiting bureaucracy and uncertainty will ensure that it continues to benefit businesses and job-seekers.

“Implementation will create some challenges, but the regulations do not fundamentally impact on the crucial flexibility that agency work provides. The publication of the guidance is the latest milestone – it is now up to agencies and employers to come together and make it work.”

The guidance can be viewed at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/a/11-905-ag…

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