By Nick Hobden, Partner and Head of Employment.
Many of you will have heard a lot about the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) over the last year or so. Some of you may already have done what you need to do to make sure that your business is compliant. If you have, then you get a gold star and go straight to the top of the class. But there are, no doubt, many out there who have not quite managed to find the time to concentrate their minds on this issue just yet. Well you can put it off no longer!
The AWR came into force on 1 October 2011. You can remind yourselves of the key features of the regulations by reading our information sheet.
Once you have done that, you need to draw up an action plan for the practical steps that you need to take.
If you are a hirer of agency workers:
- audit all those working for you. Work out who your agency workers are. You might have more than you realised
- consider whether your agency workers are performing the same or similar roles to people whom you permanently employ. You may need to conduct a detailed analysis of the roles in question, in order to evaluate quite how similar the roles are
- consider what collective facilities (e.g. canteen, car park, gym) you provide to staff and ensure that agency workers can use them also
- compare your agency workers to permanent members of staff undertaking the same or similar work. Are there any differences in their basic terms and conditions? If so, you may have an issue
- identify agency workers for whom there are no direct comparators. Are there still any basic terms that you offer to all staff, which you do not offer to agency workers? This could also cause problems
- where appropriate, provide your agencies with information relating to your standard terms and conditions, pay scales and holiday terms, in order to ensure that they are in a position to comply with the legislation
- keep an eye on the clock – it is essential that you have your house in order before your agency workers accrue more than 12 weeks’ continuous service.
You may also want to consider whether continuing to use agency workers still makes sense. Would you be better off engaging casual workers directly? Is it worth contracting-out parts of your business entirely? You may need to consider some fairly radical options, if the cost of engaging agency workers proves too high.
If you are an agency:
- make sure that you have reviewed your standard contracts, in order to address the obligations with which you and your clients must comply
- make sure that you have put in place the internal systems necessary for collating information relating to the terms and conditions that you need to replicate
- in advance of any agency worker reaching the 12-week point, make sure that you request the relevant information from your clients
- notify your clients of the changes that you are proposing to make to the way in which you pay the agency workers
- put in place systems for regularly checking with your clients, in order to make sure that no further changes to terms and conditions have been made
For more information please contact Nick Hobden on 01892 701326.