Agency workers regulations

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What are they?

The agency workers regulations (AWR) were introduced in 2010 to protect low-paid ‘agency workers’ such as temps. They are also designed to stop permanent employees being undercut by lower cost agency workers.

They do this by giving agency workers the right to be treated as if they had been employed directly by their client – in terms of pay, holiday and a range of other rights.

So if a worker believes their AWR rights are being ignored, ultimately they could bring their hirer or agency to an employment tribunal. 

What are the issues?

These regulations are not meant to apply either to workers who aren’t supervised by their hirers or to freelancers. The trouble is that it is not made clear exactly how freelancers are exempted: it’s too open to interpretation.  

This could have the effect of discouraging businesses and recruiters from using the UK’s most flexible, most skilled workforce. And although so far freelancers have reported only minimal problems because of the regulations, IPSE remains vigilant.

What we are doing:

As well as looking out for any challenges that may arise from this, we are also making the case for clearing the confusion.

Freelancers are not vulnerable workers, they are businesses. They negotiate their own terms and are engaged by their clients on a business-to-business basis. The flexible skills they provide are vital not just to their clients but to the entire UK economy.

The lack of clarity about AWR puts all this in jeopardy. Businesses must have the confidence to work with freelancers without fear of unnecessary tribunal cases and legal action.