News & Views

Agency Worker Regulations- one year on

BY Hussain Kayani
Employment law
BG Purple

Many happy returns, Agency Worker Regulations - you’ve reached your first birthday! Before we get stuck into the jelly and ice cream, let us cast our minds back to this time last year, when a great many employers were worried about what impact the AWR would have on their businesses.

Some commentators predicted that the AWR would prove to be prohibitively expensive to administrate, which in turn would lead to fewer businesses taking on agency staff. Concerns were also raised about the fact that agency workers had to satisfy the 12 week “waiting period” before becoming entitled to equality of terms. It was suspected that some businesses would simply defeat the aims of the legislation by termination contracts before 12 weeks’ service was reached.  

Nonetheless, the AWR came into force on 1st October 2011, and from that day forward, agency workers had to be paid the same and given the same employment conditions as employees once they reached 12 weeks’ service. 

In the year since its creation, businesses have continued to hire agency workers, and do not appear to have been deterred by the AWR. Research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation shows that the burden of implementing the rules has mainly been borne by employment agencies, and businesses have generally not suffered. While 28% of employers surveyed said they had reduced their use of agency workers, two thirds of those said that the AWR were not the problem- the true reason was economic uncertainty and lack of growth.  

So, happy birthday Agency Worker Regulations. It’s been a bumpy year, but it looks like you’re here to stay!

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