Ann Pettengell - Clients - AWR Overview

AWR Overview

What is AWR?

The Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) is an EU directive which was implemented in the UK in October 2011. It has been designed to entitle agency workers the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job.   

What does it include?

  • Equal pay including holiday pay, performance-related bonuses, commission etc.
  • Equal working time, rest breaks, rest periods, night work and annual leave 
  • Access to collective facilities and amenities
  • Information regarding relevant permanent vacancies

What this means for you

If you are an employer and hire temporary agency workers through us, you should provide us with up to date information on your terms and conditions so that we can ensure that an agency worker receives the correct equal treatment, as if they had been recruited directly, after 12 weeks in the same job.  You are responsible for ensuring that all agency workers can access your facilities and are able to view information on your job vacancies from the first day of their assignment with you.

What do I need to do?

Day 1: You must ensure that your temporary workers can access your facilities (such as canteen, childcare facilities, transport facilities, etc) and can access information on your job vacancies from the first day of their assignment.  You are responsible for providing equal treatment for Day 1 entitlements and are liable for any breach of this obligation given that we have no control over providing an agency worker with access to facilities when they are on assignment with you.

After 12 weeks in the same job: The equal treatment entitlements relate to pay and other basic working conditions (working hours, annual leave, rest breaks, etc.) and come into effect after an agency worker completes a 12 week qualifying period in the same job with the same hirer.  After completing the qualifying period, pregnant agency workers will also be allowed to take paid time off for ante-natal appointments during an assignment.

Calculating the 12 week qualifying period

The 12 week qualifying period is triggered by working in the same job with the same hirer for 12 calendar weeks.  A calendar week in this context will comprise any period of seven days starting with the first day of an assignment.  Calendar weeks will be accrued regardless of how many hours the worker does on a weekly basis.  Therefore, even if the agency worker is on assignment for only a couple of hours a week, it will still count as a week and they will still be entitled to equal treatment after 12 calendar weeks calculated in this way.  For example, an agency worker begins work on a Tuesday so all work done up to and including the following Monday will count as one calendar week.

Accrual of 12 week qualifying period

An agency worker can qualify for equal treatment after 12 weeks in the same role with you, regardless of whether they have been supplied by more than one agency over the course of that period of time. This means that even if the agency worker has just joined us, he or she may already have completed the qualifying period in relation to a particular role with you, or at least have accrued a number of weeks towards completing it.  In order to ensure that the agency worker receives their correct entitlement, we will ask the candidates for their up to date work history - the aim being to ensure that we are aware of any recent temporary assignments they have undertaken.  This is already common practice for us since not to do so could leave us in a position where we may be liable, in whole or part, for any lack of equal treatment. 

Information on previous assignments

While there is no legal obligation on the agency worker to provide information on previous assignments, if an agency worker fails to inform us when asked if they have worked for you before, and then brings a claim for equal treatment, the Tribunal may take this into account in making any award.

The Qualifying Clock

The Regulations provide for a number of circumstances in which breaks do not prevent agency workers from completing the qualifying period.  These provisions can best be explained by thinking of the qualifying period as a clock which runs from 0 to 12.  Sometimes a gap between assignments – or a move to a new assignment - will mean that the clock is reset to 0 and must start again.  In other circumstances a break will merely ‘pause’ the clock which will then continue to tick when the agency worker returns. In some limited circumstances, the clock will continue to tick even if the agency worker is not working on an assignment.

Reasons for the qualifying clock to reset to zero;

  • An agency worker begins a new assignment with a new hirer
  • An agency worker remains with the same hirer but is no longer in the same role.
  • If there is a break between assignments with the same hirer of more than 6 weeks (which is not one which ‘pauses’ the clock or during which it continues to ‘tick’)

Types of break that will cause the qualifying clock to ‘pause’;

  • A break for any reason where the break is no more than six calendar weeks and the agency worker returns to the same role with the same hirer
  • A break of up to 28 weeks because the agency worker is incapable of work because of sickness or injury
  • Any break which is for the purpose of taking leave to which the agency worker is entitled, including annual leave
  • A break up to 28 calendar weeks to allow the agency worker to perform jury service
  • A break caused by a regular and planned shutdown of the workplace by the hirer (for example at Christmas)
  • A break caused by a strike, lock out or other industrial action at the hirer’s establishment

Breaks where the clock continues to tick

  • Breaks due to pregnancy, childbirth or maternity which take place during pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after childbirth
  • Any breaks due to the worker taking maternity leave, adoption leave or paternity leave
  • In each of these cases the clock will continue to tick for the originally intended duration of the assignment, or the likely duration of the assignment (whichever is longer)

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