Employment

After 12 weeks an agency worker is entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as workers recruited directly by the hirer. The first 12 week qualifying period since the Agency Workers Regulations were introduced expired at the end of December 2011 and so only now are we seeing the new right to equality of pay and holiday entitlement in practice. Two recent surveys have contrasting results.

A survey of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies found that employers of professional staff (in sectors such as information technology, banking, finance and engineering) are likely to end assignments prematurely to avoid reaching the 12-week qualifying period. The survey of 42 recruitment agencies found that 29% expected employers to terminate assignments early.

This contrasts with figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation suggesting that 81% of employers are planning to increase their numbers of agency workers or to keep numbers at current levels. Rather than reducing the numbers of agency workers, employers are looking to pass on responsibility for increased costs to supplying agencies, often by using the Swedish derogation model.

The Swedish derogation model is an exemption from the right to equal treatment with regard to pay where the agency provides the agency worker with a permanent contract of employment and pays them a minimum amount between assignments when they are not working for a hirer. Tesco, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, DHL and Carlsberg are all being reported as requiring their agencies to use the Swedish derogation model.

For further details of the survey results click here.

Julie Keir