New temporary worker law comes into force

New legislation for temporary and contract workers came into force on 1 October.

The regulations are designed to ensure that agency workers receive the same or no less favourable treatment compared to employees.

The rules, which apply to agency workers supplied by a temporary work agency to a hirer, including those supplied via intermediaries, mean that from day one of their employment, an agency worker will be entitled to the same access to facilities such as childcare and canteens as an employee, and must be informed of any job vacancies.

After 12 weeks, an agency worker will be entitled to the same basic conditions of employment as if they had been employed directly. This specifically applies to pay, including any fee or bonus, commission or holiday pay, as well as working time rights, including any annual leave above what is required by law.

Agency workers will also be entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments during working hours.

Any employers who fail to comply with the regulations after 1 October face a fine of £5,000 per worker wronged from an Employment Tribunal.

Commenting on the shakeups, and warning employers to make sure they gear up for them, chief executive at employment relations body Acas, John Taylor said: "Businesses really need to make sure that they have a handle on these changes. It's not something to think about down the line and get it wrong, as it can be costly to your business.

"Some employers may try to get round the regulations by hiring and rehiring temps on a succession of shorter periods. But they need to be careful of the many provisos within the new law. We would always urge employers to take a fair approach as the basis for any workplace relations."

More details on the new law can be found here.