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Agency Workers Regulations 2010

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which took effect in October 2011, provides that agency workers are entitled to equal treatment on basic employment conditions, such as pay and holidays, working time and rest breaks after they have worked in a role for 12 weeks (qualifying period). Agency workers will also be entitled to the same job vacancies and collective facilities, such as staff canteens, childcare facilities and transport services, as permanent members of staff from the first day of their assignments. Agency workers are considered to be anyone who provides temporary work or services to an organisation or hirer and is subject to their supervision, but is contracted via an agency rather than the organisation itself. This also applies to those employed by an umbrella company. The regulations are based on the 2008 EU Temporary Agency Work Directive and were adopted to protect working and employment conditions of contractors, freelancers and temporary workers with wide implications for the staffing sector and its supply chain.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • employment
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
Since October 2011
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The regulations aim to ensure that temporary agency workers have the same relevant terms and conditions as a ?comparable employee? of the hirer. The agency worker and the employee must be engaged in the same or broadly similar work.
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • regulations of the labour market
Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
For failure to provide basic working and employment conditions, liability can rest with wither the Temporary Work Agency (TWA) and/or the hirer to the extent that each is actually responsible for the failure. Even if the TWA will be initially responsible for the breach of the equal treatment principle, it will have a defence if it can show that it obtained or took reasonable steps to obtain relevant information from the hirer about its basic working and employment conditions and treated the agency worker accordingly. If it can establish this defence then the hirer will become liable for the liability which would have been the TWA?s. Workers can claim against unlawful treatment in a tribunal. The Tribunal will generally be able to award financial compensation, make a declaration setting out the agency worker?s rights in relation to the complaint and/or recommend that the hirer/TWA takes certain action to remove the adverse effect on the agency worker.
Intended target group
Temporary agency workers
Working age population
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state
Intended output
  • regulation of the labour market
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
Figures from the Labour Force Survey show that the number of agency temps fell sharply during the recession from 2008, reaching a trough of 245,000 in 2009. As research (Forde and Slater 2014) found, just prior to the implementation of the regulations in autumn 2011, there were 285,000 agency temps in work in the UK. This rose to over 300,000 just after the regulations were implemented, and rose as high as 321,165 by winter 2012, comprising 1.27% of the employed workforce ?the highest that agency employment as a proportion of the employed workforce has been since LFS figures begun to be collated in 1981.This suggests that the regulations have not had an effect of dampening demand for agency labour. / Whereas trade unions welcome the regulations and have tried to raise awareness of them among workers, employer organisations have been strongly critical of both the EU directive and the UK regulations. According to the Confederation of British Industry, the regulations have been ?gold plated to include extra process costs for employers not required under European law?. The Institute of Directors described the regulations as ?one of the worst pieces of employment regulation in the last 10 years?. / / Sources: / BIS (2011). Agency Workers Regulations, Guidance. / Forde, C. and Slater, G. (2014). The effects of the Agency Workers Regulations on agency and employer practice, Research Paper, Ref.01/14.
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