New Agency Workers Regulations In Force
30 September 2011
The long-awaited implementation of the new Agency Workers Regulations, which came into force on Saturday, 1 October 2011, is being warmly welcomed by the CWU - despite concerns that some employers may still attempt to circumvent the new rights to equal treatment that have finally been awarded to 'temporary' staff'.
For almost six years the CWU has been at the forefront of the campaign to address the unfairness of a 'two tier workforce' whereby companies have often supplemented their directly employed workforce with agency workers on massively inferior terms and conditions. Despite their 'temporary' status, many of these agency employees are continuously employed for years on end - often working immediately alongside the hirer's directly contracted employees and doing exactly the same work, but on significantly lower pay, less holiday entitlement and 'statutory minimum' terms.
Implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations goes some way to address this inequality.
CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes said:
"It's been a long time coming, but after years of campaigning by the CWU and other unions, hundreds of thousands of agency workers across the UK can now look forward to some basic employment fairness. After 12 weeks in a given job, people who previously could only dream of the superior terms and conditions of their directly employed counterparts will now be entitled to equal treatment as of right. For many, this will mean substantial pay rise and equalised terms and conditions as early as December 24."
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Thursday 29 September 2011, Billy hit back at attempts by vested interests to rubbish the new Regulations and associated speculation that the Coalition Government is looking at ways to water down the Regulations.
"Although the Regulations were agreed between the CBI, the TUC and the last Labour Government, David Cameron clearly sees these vital protections for agency workers as a threat to his City chums. Speculation has been rife that new loopholes are being sought to avoid workers qualifying for equal treatment - and, if they emerge, these threats need to be challenged every inch of the way."
Meanwhile, with the first agency workers now set to benefit from the terms of equal treatment on 24 December, the CWU is keeping close tabs on how the Regulations are actually applied by agencies and hirers to ensure vulnerable agency workers actually receive their new employment rights.
CWU Assistant Secretary Sally Bridge explains:
"As with any major new piece of employment legislation, the devil is in the detail - and the CWU is working closely with BT and Manpower to ensure our Manpower members receive their new entitlements in full. Simultaneously the CWU will be carrying on the fight for equal treatment for those agency workers who have been excluded from the terms of equal treatment - including recently employed Manpower employees who have been issued with 'Pay Between Assignment' contracts which side-step the Regulations. The Regulations now in place certainly represent a major step forward in the fight for fairness for agency workers. They're a good start - but this isn't going to be the end of the story."