BLOG ON AGENCY WORKERS
The CWU have campaigned for equal treatment rights for
agency workers for many years as we have first hand
experience of the precarious nature of agency working, and the
level of discrimination that our members face as far as their
terms and conditions of employment are concerned.
For many young workers employment agencies are the main
way into employment as many big companies have either hived
of their recruitment functions or outsourced to other
companies. The CWU have questioned for many years whether
agency working acts as a gateway into permanent employment
for staff or whether it can trap agency workers into a cycle of
insecure and often low paid employment. The union has
challenged employers including BT as to whether agency
working has also been used to displace permanent forms of
employment and to avoid basic employment protections.
The CWU campaign for equal treatment has been a long and
arduous road involving the local branches and our agency
members directly lobbying their MP’s to have the terms of the
EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive agreed by the UK.
In 2008 the EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive was
finally adopted. Agreement on the Directive was in part
facilitated by an agreement reached in the UK between the
CBI, the TUC and Government.
This agreement now forms the basis of the Agency Workers
Regulations which was laid before Parliament in January 2010
and was adopted before the General Election although the new
rights will not come into effect until October 2011.
The Directive must be implemented in the UK by November
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 is a lengthy and
extremely complex document and implementation will include
provision based on the agreement reached on the 20th May
2008 between the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and
the Trade Union Congress (TUC) that agency workers should
receive equal treatment on basic working and employment
conditions after 12 weeks in a given job.
This also includes basic pay, hourly rate, performance related
pay, bonuses, holiday pay, overtime, shift premia, hours
including night work, allowances, holidays including holiday pay
and ability to take leave.
The CWU is currently working with the TUC on how the terms
of the UK regulations will be implemented and identifying areas
of concern where employers and agencies will seek to avoid
That work is ongoing and we will shortly be reporting to
branches on our plans for the future and how the regulations
will affect our members.