In a nutshell, agency workers now have the same rights as permanent employees after a period of 12 consecutive weeks of carrying out the same task for the same client (or employer/hirer). While the majority of the ramifications of this change will be managed by the agency placing your staff, it’s worth being aware of the effect of this new regulation on your arrangements with agency staff.
Agency workers have long been a real boost to the workforce, bringing skills and expertise that may be lacking within the organisation, or carrying out tasks that don’t warrant an employee. One of the big attractions of hiring agency staff prior to the recent changes was the fact that employer’s were able to employ these workers purely on a “needs” basis without worrying too much about broad employment conditions. Any agency placing a member of staff now needs to be aware of the potential for increased responsibilities, and therefore increased costs if, and when this legislation kicks in (i.e. after the 12th consecutive week of carrying out the same job for the same employer). There is little doubt that these changes will have impacted on agency costs and that any increased costs will ultimately be passed on to the end user.
Growing desire and pressure for fairness in recent years is what has brought about this change, enabling agency workers to benefit, after 12 consecutive weeks of carrying out the same work for the same client, the same working conditions as permanent staff. The early part of this development brought about the agency worker’s right to the national minimum wage; a working week capped at 48 hours, and the right to holiday pay, but more recent developments have extended these rights even further. Now for example, from day one, an agency worker has the same right to the use of employee facilities and access to job opportunities as any other member of the workforce.