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Employment: Consultation equal treatment of agency workers

1 February 2012 |

Last May the UK government reached an accord with the employees and employers bodies (the TUC and CBI) which broke a 9 year deadlock on the proposed EU Agency Workers Directive.

Agency staff to have the same pay and conditions as “end user” employees

The Directive proposes new rights for workers who are supplied to work in an “end user” organisation under contract with an employment agency.  The central proposal is that once an agency worker has been working in the same end user organisation for 12 weeks they should be entitled to the same basic pay and conditions as they would enjoy if they had been hired directly by the end user.  “Occupational social security schemes” such as pensions and company sick pay are excluded however for the many businesses that use agency staff for periods longer than 3 months of a time, for example to provide maternity leave cover, there could be a significant increase in costs.

Matters for consultation

Matters that the government is consulting on include:

  • what should be included in the definition of “pay” for the purposes of establishing equal treatment.  The government proposes that this includes holiday, overtime, shift allowances, unsocial hours premiums and some work-related bonuses.
  • how the right comparator is established for the purposes of establishing equal treatment.  Employment agencies and end user organisation are both understandably worried that there will be a massive increase in the administrative costs of placing people on temporary assignments.
  • how the 12 week qualifying period will be calculated and what break in usage of an agency temp is sufficient to “re-start the clock”.  The government wants to ensure that avoidance by use of artificial breaks is not possible, while industry wants to ensure that where individuals are placed on a series of short and genuinely unconnected assignments in the same end user, this does not give rise to increased costs under the equal treatment provisions.

Timing for legislation – hopes for a delay beyond early 2010

After the initial consultation there will be a further consultation on draft regulations before the new obligations finally come into force.  At present the government position is that this will happen in early 2010 but there is strong lobbying to delay implementation until the end of 2011, the official deadline for implementation of the EU Directive.

The current consultation document can be found by following the link below.  Consultation closes on 31 July.

 

For further information please get in touch.

Disclaimer

Content is for general information purposes only.  The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice.  If you require assistance in relation to any issue, please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances.

Disclaimer

Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this article. For further legal information click here.

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To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS and other taxing authorities, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this article (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

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