The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) are designed to tackle discrimination against agency workers in the workplace and their often poor terms and conditions. The Regulations give temporary agency workers the following rights.
From day one of an assignment, temporary agency workers have a right to:
After 12 weeks (the 'qualifying period') in the same role with the same hirer, temporary agency workers have the right to:
These rights only apply to temporary agency workers. They do not apply to those seeking permanent work through an agency, nor do they apply to the genuinely self-employed who are running their own business.
Employers used to be able to escape temporary agency workers’ rights to equal pay (but not equal holidays and working time) by using a mechanism known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ which involved employees being paid a minimum amount (at least the National Minimum Wage) between each assignment.
In April 2020, this ‘Swedish derogation’ exemption was abolished as a result of campaigning by the trade union movement. It is no longer possible for employers to exclude agency workers’ equal pay rights by providing ‘pay-between-assignments’ contracts.
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