From 1 October, agency social workers will be entitled to new rights under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
If you are an agency social worker and you have worked in the same role for the same employer for 12 weeks, you will be entitled to work under the same terms and conditions as permanent members of staff.
In other words, you will be entitled to the same pay, duration of working time, annual leave, breaks and rest periods.
This does not mean that agency workers suddenly become direct employees; your working relationship will still be with your agency, but you may be entitled to different terms and conditions. It won’t matter if you move to a different agency but are still based with the same hiring employer. As long as you work for 12 weeks for the same hirer, doing the same role or type of work, you will be entitled to the new rights.
You will be able to take certain breaks from your role without losing out.
For example, if you work for four weeks for a nursing home, take up to a six-week break and come back to the same role, it will count as going into week five of the 12-week period.
You will also be entitled to certain rights from the first day of your assignment, including access to facilities the hirer provides to permanent employees, such as a staff canteen, the workplace creche or transport services.
And you will be entitled to receive information from the hirer about any relevant vacancies in the organisation, to give you an opportunity to apply for permanent employment.
Hiring employers may be liable for a fine of up to £5,000 if they do not afford agency workers these rights.
Ed McRandal is a policy consultant for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation
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