Labour Research December 2009

Law Queries

Agency workers

Q. We are trying to sign up some agency workers at our workplace with mixed results so far. What difference might the new agency workers rules make?

A. The government’s proposals on agency workers are currently going through the consultation stage. Under the current proposals, agency workers with 12 weeks’ service will be entitled to the same terms and conditions as the permanent staff of the end-user, that is, the company/organisation they have been assigned to by the agency.

Additionally, from the first day of their assignment, agency workers will be entitled to information about vacancies and will have access to the same on-site facilities as permanent staff of the end-user.

Finally, pregnant agency workers will from day one be entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off to attend ante-natal appointments or change their working conditions and hours.

The good news is that this new set of rights to defend, should make union membership more attractive to agency workers. The bad news is that the government has opted for a very late implementation date of 1 October 2011.