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Equal Treatment for Agency Workers - Later not Sooner

The Government has announced that new regulations providing equal treatment for agency workers will not come into force in the UK until October 2011.

At the recent TUC conference, the Prime Minister pledged that the legislation would be on the statute books within the next few months, which some people took to mean markedly sooner than 5 December 2011 deadline by which EU member countries must incorporate the provisions of the Agency Workers Directive into national law.  However, Business Minister Pat McFadden explained that the Government is 'mindful of the need to avoid changing requirements on business until the economic recovery is more firmly established' and that the delay will afford 'recruiters and their clients time to prepare and plan'.

The Regulations are to provide temporary agency workers with equal treatment, compared with permanent workers, in terms of basic working and employment conditions once they have been in a given job for 12 weeks.

Other benefits that agency workers will gain from the first day of their assignment include:

•    information about vacancies so that they have the same opportunity as other workers to find permanent employment;
•    equal access to on-site facilities, such as child care and transport services; and
•    improved rights to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers, including the right to reasonable time off work to attend ante-natal appointments and adjustments to working conditions and working hours.

Following an earlier consultation on policy, the Government has now launched a consultation on detailed proposals for the implementation of the Directive into UK law. The draft regulations can be found at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file53058.pdf. Consultation closes on 11 December 2009.

John Merry can be contacted on 01952 211010 or email him at john.merry@lblaw.co.uk