The Government has published last-minute amendments to correct drafting errors in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
The Regulations are due to come into force on 1 October 2011. In summary, they provide that agency workers are entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as members of permanent staff after a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the role.
The key amendments are:
Definition of an agency worker. Widened so that individuals who have a contract of employment with an agency or “any other contract to perform work and services personally” are covered. The original definition required work and services to be performed for the agency itself, thereby apparently excluding the large proportion of agency workers whose contracts with the agency are to perform work and services for the hirer.
Pay between assignments (also known as the “Swedish derogation”). Amended to clarify that the obligation for an agency to find suitable work and pay agency workers who are not working, but are available to work, will only be triggered once the worker has completed their first assignment.
“Reasonable steps” defence. This defence to a breach of equal treatment relating to basic working and employment conditions is only available to an agency. The previous drafting suggested that a hirer could rely on the “reasonable steps” defence.