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No equality of terms for agency workers on indefinite assignments

18 December 2013

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has decided that the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) do not apply to agency workers who are placed with a hirer for an 'indefinite' period.

The Judge in this case considered both the AWR and the underlying European Directive, and concluded that:

  • the word "temporary" in the definition of those to whom the AWR apply could not be ignored
  • "temporary" means 'not permanent'
  • "permanent" means 'indefinite in duration'.

This means that many agency workers who are working alongside directly hired workers, but on less favourable terms, are not entitled to the 'Day 1' rights or '12 week rights' (equality of terms and conditions) provided for in the AWR. It is a significant decision. It confirms that the scope of the AWR is narrower, and the number of individuals who benefit far fewer, than many previously considered to be the case.

This may not be the last word on this point. For the time being, however, those seeking to avoid the application of the AWR will be tempted to take care to avoid describing assignments as being 'temporary'. 

For more information please contact Anne-Marie Balfour, Senior Associate

T: +44 (0)20 7427 6588