New Equal Treatment Rights For Agency Workers Introduced
New legislation providing equal treatment for Northern Ireland’s 22,000 agency workers comes into operation today. The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 puts in place new rights which will allow agency workers to have the same basic working and employment conditions that they would be entitled to if they had been employed directly by the hirer. The new rights apply after the agency worker has completed 12 weeks in the same job with the same hirer. In addition, agency workers will also be entitled to equal access to on-site facilities and employment vacancies from day one of any new assignment.
Commenting on the new rights, Dr Stephen Farry, Employment and Learning Minister, said: “For the first time, temporary agency workers can expect to be treated the same as their directly hired colleagues in relation to basic working and employment conditions, including pay and holidays. This change in the law is intended to ensure fairness for agency workers when compared to the directly hired employees with whom they work.” Dr Farry continued: “The new measures implement the requirements of the European Agency Workers Directive. They follow an extensive consultation which explored how these new rights could be introduced in a way that would not overly burden Northern Ireland employers, or constrain our ability to create jobs at this challenging time. I believe with these Regulations we have put in place a package of important additional protections for agency workers, while retaining the necessary flexibility that allows our economy to adapt and respond quickly to changing market conditions.”
Comprehensive guidance on the new legislation has been prepared with input from employers, agencies and workers’ representatives. It can be found at http://www.delni.gov.uk/awrniguidance and further information about the new rights is available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk.