New Agency Worker Regulations – Guidelines from ACA

In March this year, ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) published new guidelines for agency workers as a result of a high number of calls they’d received. These aren’t new agency worker regulations (which came out in 2010), they are clearer guidance on what the key legal rights for agency workers are.

What do the new agency worker regulations guidelines say?

To understand what an agency worker is, have a look at our article on agency worker discrimination here.

The new agency worker regulations guidelines highlight important rights for agency workers. Some exist from day one of them starting to work for an agency, and others cut in after a twelve week qualifying period.

From day one, agency worker regulations stipulate:

You must have access to the same facilities as directly employed workers, including the canteen, childcare facilities, and car parking etc. You must also be informed of relevant vacancies by the company who has hired you, to enable you to find permanent employment.

The responsibility for ensuring you receive day one rights lies with your hiring company, not the agency.

From week twelve, agency worker regulations stipulate:

You are entitled to enjoy the same basic conditions for carrying out your role as you would have enjoyed had you been directly in employment with the company who has hired you.

These include:

  • Pay, holiday pay, bonuses, commission, and overtime
  • Working time duration
  • Night work
  • Breaks
  • Annual leave

It might help to get advice on how the twelve week qualifying period is calculated, however, because in truth it’s a bit complicated.

As an aside, note that these new agency worker regulations guidelines explain that each individual term has to be considered, not just an overall package. It cannot be a matter of some less favourable treatment is compensated by other more favourable treatment. And it’s also worth noting that each breach of an agency worker’s week-twelve rights is the responsibility of both your agency and the company for whom you’re working.

What about other employee rights and benefits?

Pensions – The agency worker regulations do not specifically state that an agency worker is entitled to the pension benefit they would receive if they were directly employed by the hiring company. However, an agency worker is still deemed a jobholder from the viewpoint of auto-enrolment. Thus the responsibility for this falls on the agency.

Statutory sick pay – If the qualifying conditions are met, it is your agency that is responsible for paying this. It is not dependent on whether the company that’s hired you covers the cost; that’s a matter for a commercial arrangement between the agency and their customer. Agency workers are not entitled to any enhanced sick pay that the hiring company offers directly employed staff, however.

Parental rights – Once the twelve week qualifying period has passed, an agency worker is entitled to certain rights. These include:

  • Paid time off for antenatal appointments
  • Alternative work (or pay) if they are unable to continue with an assignment for health and safety reasons
  • Statutory maternity pay (and paternity, adoption, or shared parental pay)

If you’d like to understand more about the new agency workers regulations guidelines and how they affect you, please do call us. We’d be delighted to answer your questions.


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