Legislation overview

An assortment of legislation has an impact on temporary workers without mentioning them specifically. For example, many temporary workers will satisfy the statutory definition of ‘worker’ and accordingly legislation designed to protect ‘workers’ generally may have an impact upon many temporary workers, including:

  • Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992, section 296
  • Employment Rights Act 1996, section 230(3)(b)
  • Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), Regulation 2
  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998, section 54(3)
  • Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551), Regulation 1
  • Employment Rights Act 1996, sections 43K and 230(6), as inserted by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, section 15.

A wide range of other legislation has an impact on the position of temporary workers, including:

  • Employment Agencies Act 1973
  • Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992 , section 141
  • Employment Relations Act 1999, schedule 7
  • The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/3319)
  • The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3575)
  • Employment Act 2008
  • The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2010 SI 2010/1782)
  • The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/93)
  • The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1941)
  • The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 (SI 2011/350)
  • Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Agency workers are affected by the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/93) which implemented the Agency Workers Directive in Great Britain. The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 (SI 2011/350) came into force on 5 December 2011.

The overall effect of these regulations is that agency workers are entitled to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job. The Government has taken legal advice concerning possible future modifications to the Regulations and intends to review them in 2013. See the related FAQs on the provisions of the new Regulations and the related Q&A Are there any future developments expected in the area of temporary workers?.

For further information which concerns atypical workers generally and includes information of interest to those engaging temporary workers, see our Employee status Q&As.

Q: What is the definition of temporary workers?

Q: What is the difference between temporary agency workers supplied by an employment agency and those supplied by an employment business?

Q: What is the legal status of temporary agency workers supplied by an employment business to an end user?

Q: How can an employer avoid a temporary agency worker supplied by an employment business or agency becoming an employee?

Q: Can an employer avoid employment rights by using temporary agency workers who supply services through their own limited companies?

Q: What is the effect of breaks in periods of temporary work assignments on the legal status of temporary agency workers generally and under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010?

Q: If a temporary agency worker is not an employee what rights do they have?

Q: When does a temporary worker, including fixed-term and agency workers, become entitled to a permanent contract?

Q: Can a temporary agency worker bring a discrimination claim against the organisation where they are working temporarily?

Q: Who is covered by the Agency Workers Regulations 2010?

Q: What are the key provisions in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 and what should employers do to comply with them?

Q: Can an employer dismiss temporary agency workers after eleven weeks to avoid the Agency Workers Regulations 2010?

Q: What is the Swedish derogation and can it be used to avoid the Agency Workers Regulations 2010?

Q: What is the tax status of workers supplied through agencies and agency workers with their own service companies?

Q: Are there any future developments expected in the area of temporary workers?

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