What are the Agency Worker Regulations?
The Agency Worker Regulations give ‘Agency Workers’ parity in terms of pay and employment conditions with permanent employees of the Client (Hirer) after they have completed at least 12 weeks in the same job with the same hirer.
The Regulations were initially designed by the European Community to protect the rights of low paid agency workers and give them the same pay, terms and conditions of employment, maternity / paternity benefits as ‘directly employed’ individuals of the client. Overall the Regulations, which were introduced in October 2011, have significantly added to the red tape surrounding the use of temporary workers.
It is important to note that, at the risk of stating the obvious, the Agency Worker Regulations apply only to cases involving the supply of temporary workers. This is usually clear cut for low or semi-skilled roles, but for higher level professionals many who work on a ‘freelance’ basis are not acting as a temporary worker, but instead take on the delivery of client assignments. When a company engages PWC as its auditors, PWC will send its staff to carry out the audit, and they will spend a temporary amount of time at the client site, but those staff will not be acting as temporary workers supplied to the client, rather they will remain part of PWC’s staff; what PWC is supplying is a professional auditing service, it is not supplying temporary workers. This distinction can be very important for high level professionals such as IT/engineering contractors, locum doctors, and accountants/actuaries whose ‘freelance’ activities may often be structured as the supply of a managed consulting service rather than as the supply of a temporary worker. The key distinction is often the direction and control of the person doing the work: if the client company micro manages the staff, then they are probably agency workers, if the workers have a very high degree of autonomy, and they are primarily delivering a service, they may well not be classed as agency workers.
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Who do the Agency Worker Regulations apply to?
The Agency Worker Regulations apply to;
- Hirers – Client companies who utilise temporary workers
- Temporary Work Agencies – who supply Agency Workers to a Hirer
- Agency Workers – Who work at client sites temporarily
Workers are afforded certain rights on Day 1 of the assignment and are also given ‘parity’ in terms of pay and employment conditions after 12 weeks in the same job with the same employer.
To find out more see ‘The 12 Week Qualifying Period’.
Who is ‘Outside’ the scope of the AWR
Certain individuals are considered to be ‘Outside the scope of AWR’, including;
- Limited Company Contractors who are ‘Outside IR35’ and who are genuinely in the business of delivering a project based service to a Client (via a Temporary Work Agency), AND
- Those Consultants working further to a Managed Service Contract that their employer has in place with a Client, AND
- Individuals working for ‘in-house temporary staffing banks’ where a company employs its temporary workers directly (and they only work for the same business of service), AND
- Those that find permanent employment via an ‘Employment Agency’
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