The Government has recently agreed a deal with unions and employers giving agency workers in the UK equal treatment after 12 weeks in work. It says this should help pave the way to reaching agreement in Europe on an agency workers directive that secures this flexibility for the UK.

The parties agreed that:

  • After 12 weeks in a job, agency workers will be entitled to be treated equally to other workers in basic working and employment conditions such as pay, overtime and holidays (occupational pensions and sick pay are not included)
    “Equal treatment” means that agency workers are entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been recruited directly to the job
    The Government will consult the social partners regarding the implementation of the European directive on:
    • mechanisms for resolving disputes regarding the definition of equal treatment
      appropriate arrangements to enable the two sides of industry and also public services to reach appropriate agreements on the treatment of agency workers
      appropriate anti-avoidance measures, in particular relating to the treatment of repeat contracts for the same worker and the position of workers with permanent contracts of employment with agencies who continue to be paid between assignments

If the EU sanctions this agreement between the relevant parties in the UK, the Government is hopeful it will be able to introduce primary legislation as early as the autumn.