Contractors' Questions: Can agencies grant equal treatment before week 12?

Contractor’s Question: Regarding the Agency Workers Regulations’ (AWR) 12 week-rule, are agencies mandated to the 12-week period or can they pay me full benefits like overtime before 12 weeks, such as from the start of the contract?

And if they don’t stick to 12 weeks, or had an equal pay arrangement informally in place from the beginning of the contract, who -- if anyone -- would face the consequences?

Expert’s Answer: Recruitment agencies may wish to grant parity of pay and working conditions in advance of week 12 of an assignment to enhance their reputation with end-clients or candidates. Or they may do it simply to overcome the administration of applying the AWR.

If an agency and its hirer chose to apply the parity of pay and working conditions entitlement set out in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 to a supply from day one, rather than after the 12-week qualifying period has been accrued, there is no reason why they cannot do this. There is likely to be a cost implication of course.

Regardless of the arrangement being operated from day one however, an agency worker would only be able to bring a claim under the AWR for parity of pay/working time once the 12-week qualifying period had been met and not before. This is because these regulations are enforceable by the worker bringing a claim to the employment tribunal and certain conditions must be met for such a claim to be brought.

The expert was Ben Grover, senior legal consultant at recruitment law firm  Lawspeed .

Friday 14th July 2017