Wednesday, 11 May 2011

No special treatment allowed

New rules on agency workers are not designed to give them special treatment, just to level the playing field - that's the message from John Mehtam, our employment law specialist.

"The much-anticipated Agency Workers Regulations 2010 will come into force in October, but it's vital that employers prepare now and understand the finer details."

John said the new legislation meant from October 1, any agency workers taken on by Shropshire companies would be entitled to access all the facilities in the workplace such as the canteen, car parking, and creche from their very first day.

"They will also be entitled to information on any vacancies in your company from that first shift. But they will need to complete 12 weeks' service before they qualify for equal treatment such as basic employment rights and conditions.

"These rules are not designed to give agency workers special treatment - if there's a waiting list for car parking, they can join it, but not jump the queue, so they don't take priority over your existing staff. And they'll only qualify for the right to equal treatment if they stay in the same role with your company for the entire 12-week period."

John said official guidance had been issued by the Government to explain to employers how to identify basic rights and conditions, including pay, working time and holiday entitlement, and pregnant workers.

"The guidance still needs parliamentary approval, but this is unlikely to be a problem, so it's vital that employers get to grips with the new rules now - before they take effect."