News story

Agency Workers Regulations guidance published

The guidance, which has been produced in partnership with a wide range of businesses, trade unions and recruitment agency representatives, will…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The guidance, which has been produced in partnership with a wide range of businesses, trade unions and recruitment agency representatives, will help hirers and agencies understand the requirements of the Regulations. Separate guidance for agency workers will be published shortly.

The Regulations implement the EU Agency Workers Directive as agreed in 2008 following social partner agreement between the CBI and TUC. These will come into force in the UK on 1 October 2011. They will give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer - if and when they complete a 12 week qualifying period in a job.

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

“The agency sector is a key part of the UK’s flexible labour market. It provides the flexibility needed for employers to meet surges in demand, cover temporary absences or cope with seasonal fluctuations and provides a route into employment for thousands of individuals.

“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.”

Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), Kevin Green said:

“There has been a genuine effort to take on board the concerns of recruitment agencies and to clarify how these regulations will work in practice. 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”.

The Government is committed to stopping the deluge of regulation that is restricting businesses and wants to be the first Government in history to reduce the burden of regulation over its lifetime. We have already set up a robust challenge process to ensure that new regulation is a last resort and are currently running the Red Tape Challenge campaign ( where we are asking the public for their views on all 21,000 regulations on the statute book.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Agency Workers Regulations Guidance can be found here -
  2. The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 bring the European Agency Workers Directive into UK law. Further information on the Agency Workers Regulations can be found here -
  3. The key changes as result of the Regulations will be that after a 12 week qualifying period an agency worker will be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been directly recruited by the hirer to the same job. These include key elements of pay, duration of working time, night work, rest periods and breaks, annual leave and paid time off for ante-natal appointments. The Regulations also include new entitlements for agency workers from day one of their assignment with regards to access to facilities at the workplace and the right to be notified of any relevant vacancies
  4. The default position in the Directive is that the qualifying principle should apply from ‘day one’ of an agency worker’s assignment. However, the Directive also allowed Member States some flexibility as to how this principle is applied, including the possibility of a qualifying period before the right to equal treatment arises, as long as this is based on an agreement reached by “national level” social partners. Such an agreement was reached by the CBI and TUC in May 2008, with the support of the previous Government and provides the legal basis for the legislation subsequently put in place - including its provision for a qualifying period of 12 weeks.
  5. The draft AWR guidance was open to comment from the 1 April to the 15 April 2011. A series of seminars and workshops with the industry were held prior to this period.
  6. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See []( for more information.

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

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Name Henry Tanner Job Title

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Published 6 May 2011