Agency Workers Get Better Work Rights from 1 October
Until fairly recently, there have been huge inequalities in the pay and conditions offered to temporary workers employed by agencies in comparison to their permanently employed counterparts.
What has changed?
On October 1st 2011, a European rule change came into effect which has greatly improved the rights of agency workers.
The BBC reports that after 12 weeks of continuous service with the same employer, agency workers are now entitled to the same pay as comparable permanent staff. Other rights newly bestowed on them since 2011 include increased entitlement to shift allowances and overtime, comparable sick pay, holiday pay and maternity rights such as paid time-off for ante-natal appointments. Employees are now also able to make use of company incentives such as a crèche, canteen or transport service.
What hasn’t changed?
Many things still depend on a permanent contract with an employer however. Agency workers are not automatically able to claim for redundancy, long term sickness, pensions or health insurance.
How has this affected business?
Notably, businesses have expressed concern at these changes. Some have argued that this negates the benefits of employing agency staff in the first place and that it might lead to a reduction in the number of businesses that recruit temporary staff in this way. However, the statistics have not shown this to be the case.
Unions have also pointed out the danger of employers ending employment terms as the 12 week service point approaches. However, legally, employers could face the tribunals if such patterns are reported. The TUC hopes that this will reduce the insecurity faced by the casual workforce and encourage employee loyalty.
There is no doubt however, that since the changes came into force in 2011, things have improved for those searching for work using a recruitment agency and it has led to fairer practices from the employers that take them on.