On 1st October, new European rules came into effect giving the UK’s estimated 1.4 million agency workers extra rights relating to pay and benefits.
Now, once temporary employees have been in a role for 12 weeks, they will be granted similar rights to permanent staff, although they won’t have the same protection from dismissal.
Whilst agency workers were already paid the same minimum wage, and had the same basic holiday rights, as permanent staff, they will also now be allowed to use some of the same facilities enjoyed by permanent employees (such as crèches, canteens and transport services). Additionally, temps must now be made aware of internal vacancies and given the chance to apply for them.
After 12 weeks, agency workers now get the same pay, overtime, shift allowance, holiday pay, bonus and maternity rights as permanent staff. Employers don’t have to provide occupational sick pay, redundancy pay, or health insurance, however.
The changes, which were rolled out following lengthy negotiations between unions and the government, may cost British businesses as much as £2 billion a year, it has been suggested. Some have warned that the job market may become less flexible and that recruitment may be stifled by the new rules, whilst there are also fears that employers may lay-off agency staff after 11 weeks to avoid giving them additional rights.
Nevertheless, in this challenging economic climate, people doing temporary work through agencies will no doubt be grateful for the extra pay and benefits they now stand to receive.