UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Agency workers rights kick in on 1 October – be prepared!

Back in May 2008 the TUC made concessions (such as a 12 week exemption period) to secure joint agreement with the CBI on the implementation of the Temporary Agency Workers' Directive (EU Directive 2008/104/EC on temporary agency work). Regrettably, in the face of private sector lobbying, the then Labour Government deferred implementation to October 2011 (EU deadline was 5 December 2011).

Better late than never, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 will be implemented in the UK from 1 October 2011 and present a long overdue opportunity to tackle the exploitation of agency workers. This is a major organising opportunity for unions across all sectors of the economy. BIS has published guidelines here:

New entitlements are as follows:

Day 1 rights for all agency workers: If employers hire agency workers, they must ensure that they have they access to facilities (such as canteen, childcare facilities, etc) and can access information on job vacancies from the first day of their assignment.

After 12 weeks in the same job: The equal treatment entitlements relate to pay and other basic working conditions (annual leave, rest breaks etc) and come into effect after an agency worker completes a 12 week qualifying period in the same job with the same hirer. After completing the qualifying period, pregnant agency workers will now be allowed to take paid time off for ante-natal appointments during an assignment.

It is not retrospective and for existing agency workers the 12 week qualifying period will start from 1 October 2011.