Employers warned on Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)

Employers are being warned to get to grips with the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which come into force in a month’s time.

The rules, which apply from 1 October, give temporary agency staff the same basic working conditions, including pay, some bonuses, working hours and holidays, as permanent workers after 12 weeks’ continuous employment. The cost implications for employers could be sizeable.

But the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development warned employers must beware of anti-avoidance provisions within the regulations.†

Mike Emmott, employer relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “Employers should have reflected on why they use agency temps and what difference the regulations will make. Some have talked about never recruiting temps for longer than 11 weeks; others have talked about the possibility of offshoring staff.

“Our message is: do not try to evade the regulations because they are drafted tightly to make it hard to get away with clever tactics. Anyway, what is the point of hiring a succession of short-term workers for 11 weeks if you have to keep re-training people to do a job?”

Gilla Harris, partner at law firm SNR Denton, said agencies will be responsible for setting workers’ terms and conditions and will be liable for breaches of equal treatment rights. Employers will also have to identify what an
equivalent permanent employee would be paid, and pass that information to the agency.

Harris said: “The stuff that applies from day one, such as access to facilities, will not be a major problem for employers. It is the pay and benefits stuff that is the killer.”

Read more on the Agency Workers Regulations