What is AWR?

The Agency Workers Regulations were introduced as part of a package of legislative changes which came into effect in April 2020, called the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019.

The rules – often shortened to AWR – relate specifically to agency workers, and were introduced to ensure that they are entitled to the same conditions – specifically equal pay and working conditions – as permanent employees, after a qualifying period. In this article, we explain what the Agency Worker Regulations mean and how you can act in accordance with the AWR rules.

AWR guidelines for recruiters and agencies

The Agency Workers Regulations legislation defines an agency worker as someone who:

is supplied by a temporary work agency [TWA] to work temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of a hirer; and

(b) has a contract with the temporary work agency which is:

(i) a contract of employment with the agency, or

(ii) any other contract to perform work and services personally for the agency.

Anyone meeting such a description is protected by the AWR rules and entitled to pay parity and working conditions after 12 weeks.

What employment rights do agency workers have?

This legislative protection means that any agency worker is entitled to rights over two specific time frames. In the first 12 weeks on assignment, the worker is entitled to equal access to any facilities available to the permanent staff (such as onsite childcare facilities or staff canteens). They’re also entitled to be made aware of any of the hirer’s permanent vacancies and the opportunity to apply for them. These are called day one rights.

After 12 weeks in the same role with the same end-hirer, the worker enters the qualifying period and is entitled to the same working conditions (like breaks and annual leave entitlements) and equal pay as permanent employees. You can see the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 here.

2019 Agency Workers Regulation Amendments – agency focused

Agencies providing temporary workers must facilitate day one rights for their workers. This means they are responsible for obtaining specific information from the end hirer for ‘static’ roles exceeding 12 weeks. This information includes typical pay and the working conditions of permanent employees in similar roles. Having this information enables the fair treatment of agency workers after the 12 week qualifying period.

Repeal of Regulations 10 & 11

Regulation 10 of the Agency Worker Regulations related to contractual arrangements for pay between assignments, and Regulation 11 provided guidance on calculating that pay. Referred to as Swedish derogation, this model meant that agency workers between assignments – the period after the end of one contract and before the next one started – were only entitled to four weeks of pay. Agencies could pay the worker’s salary at 50% of their average wages over the previous last 12 weeks (as long as this was at least equivalent to the worker receiving the National Minimum Wage).

After a review, however, this regulation was repealed by the 2020 amendments to the AWR rules, meaning that agency workers are now entitled to pay parity after 12 weeks.

Requirement to provide a written statement

Where an agency worker believes they have not been treated in line with the rights provided under the AWR, they can request a written statement – from the agency, end hirer or both – which details their treatment. The worker must first request this statement from the agency, which has 28 days to respond. If the agency doesn’t respond, then the worker can request the statement from the hirer 30 days after the initial request was made.

Failure to provide a statement is sufficient grounds for the worker to raise a complaint with an employment tribunal.

Unfair dismissal and the right not to be subjected to detriment

Agency workers may have a claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal for infringement of the AWRs, if the worker is dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • If they provide evidence of a violation of the Agency Worker Regulations
  • For claiming that the agency has not upheld the Agency Worker Regulations
  • For claiming the agency has refused them any of the rights provided by the regulations
  • If they have, or have held, any suspicion that either an agency or end hirer intends to breach the AWRs

ded some complexity when engaging temporary workers through agencies. However, the Agency Worker Regulations have also introduced greater protections for workers on longer-term assignments.

With over 20 years of experience, Parasol is an accredited FCSA member with extensive knowledge of the agency landscape. 

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