Do you know what the Agency Workers Directive is?

Here comes some more legislation… and you know how much I love legislation!



It’s the Agency Workers Directive, also imaginatively known as the AWD.

The AWD is a piece of European legislation, the contents of which is largely non-negotiable to the British government and it is, therefore, likely to be implemented in, pretty much, its current, flawed, format, whichever party is in power. The essence of the legislation says that agency workers will get the same rights as permanent workers after they have been with a business for twelve weeks.


And that includes things like pay, sickness, conditions and crèches.


Now, do you want the good news or the bad news?

Good news first… under EU law the directive could have been implemented as soon as next spring. But the government has capitulated (sorry, listened carefully) and the directive will not now be introduced until a couple of months before the EU deadline in October 2011.


But don’t be fooled into thinking there’s a load of time to deal with this… there isn’t. In 47 days the legislation will be introduced next year and there’s loads to do.

Given that EB can be one of the highest users of Agency staff to fill short term gaps in teams or to deal with seasonal business there’s some general advice knocking about that it might worth looking into.


The CIPD, on their website www.personneltoday.com suggests that every business using agency staff should complete a review of needs now because there could be an impact on costs when the AWD is implemented.

The CIPD goes on to suggest that businesses should look at direct employment rather than using agencies especially as the agencies will try to maintain their margins, which effectively means they will charge more because placements, on average, will be shorter term. (There is a ‘fair and reasonable’ test for agency fees included in the directive).


But there are a couple of other considerations that might put you off using an agency in the future.


For example, you will be required to tell the agency about the benefits you provide your permanent staff and you’ll be required to do this from day one of using a temp.

Even more invasive is the fact you’ll have to tell the agency how much you pay permanent staff doing the same job as the agency temps.


You need to adjust your systems to cope with the twelve week cut off and there are implications for employing a temp for eleven weeks and six days!


All this adds up to a decent cost, which, of course, is proportionally higher for us in EB given that temps can form a higher proportion of our workforce at particular times. The cost of all this has been quantified:


It’s estimated that it’s £1.4bn for private sector hirers… and, folks, that means you and me!

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