Agency workers get strong new set of rights

Under new regulations that are about to come into force across the UK, workers who find jobs through agencies are going to be afforded many of the same rights as permanent staff. Some of these rights come in when they start work but most happen after twelve weeks working. Business leaders across the UK have said that the decision to increase rights will slow the recovery of the economy as they will prevent job creation.

The policy director for CBI has said, “These regulatory changes are going to cost businesses and these costs are going to mean that they can offer fewer jobs, the economy is not in the right state for the introduction of this kind of regulation.” The regulations have come from the EU and state that from day one, temporary workers are entitled to all the same facilities as permanent staff, such as use of dining or child care facilities.

A regional chairman of the FSB, Pauline Osborne has said, “We feel that the smallest of businesses should be exempt from these regulations because the burden placed upon them will be too high. The amount of red tape involved will mean that staff at these businesses will have to waste a lot of time providing documentation that compares permanent and temporary staff.”

The twelve week rights are the most significant change and these will entitle people to the same shift allowances, pay, holiday pay, bonuses and overtime rates. There has been a fear that businesses will simply start hiring people on an eleven week basis so that they can save on costs. In order to counter this, the rules state that once you have ended someone’s employment, you will not be able to hire them again for six weeks. If a pattern is seen that a business is doing this though they can face an employment tribunal and fines of up to £5,000.

An employment partner at the law firm Dickinson Dees, James Wilders, has said, “These fines are for each individual employee, so firms must be very careful to get all their documentation in order so that they can provide the same rights. Careless mistakes could become very costly. This is a high burden on small businesses as they do not generally hire HR personnel, keeping track of how long employees have been working can be difficult and time consuming.

“This can be especially complicated if they are hiring many temporary workers from several different agencies. Managers must make the effort to monitor their staff. Unfortunately this is going to have a negative impact on business as companies are going to find that they are unable to save money by hiring agency staff.”