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Agency workers set for new rights

Agency workers set for new rights

Agency staff will have more rights in the workplace under new laws set to come into effect in October.

Workers hired through agencies will be entitled to the same basic employment rights as staff directly recruited by a company once they have completed a 12-week qualifying period in a job, under regulations approved by the previous Labour government.

Guidance has now been published for employers to help them prepare for the legislation, which is part of the EU Agency Workers Directive as agreed in 2008.

Employment relations minister Edward Davey said: "The Agency Workers Regulations have been on the statute book since January 2010 and followed negotiations between the CBI and TUC. We looked carefully at the possibility of amending the regulations to address employers' concerns but were forced to conclude that we could not do so without putting the 12-week qualifying period at risk.

"This qualification period is something that is a key flexibility that we know is vital to business. Our focus therefore has been providing the best possible guidance to help everyone affected understand these regulations. We have collaborated with key organisations including employment agencies, employers, trade unions and representative bodies to develop this guidance and I believe the resulting document will help prepare everyone for the forthcoming changes."

Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: "Agency work plays a vital role within our economy. Limiting bureaucracy and uncertainty will ensure that it continues to benefit businesses and job-seekers.

"Implementation will create some challenges, but the regulations do not fundamentally impact on the crucial flexibility that agency work provides. The publication of the guidance is the latest milestone – it is now up to agencies and employers to come together and make it work."

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