Exploitation of Agency Workers?

 In Employment, Oakwood Solicitors - Latest News
Exploitation of Agency Workers?

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has now complained to the European Commission that the UK Government failed to correctly implement the Temporary Agency Workers Directive in 2011. The Temporary Agency Workers Directive was implemented in the UK via the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 with the primary aim of giving equal treatment to agency workers. Under the Regulations agency workers who have been with a company for more than 12 weeks should be entitled to the same pay as permanent staff. However in many organisations we are now seeing an increase in agency workers receiving less pay than permanent workers doing the same job.
Justification to pay agency workers less
The Swedish Derogation is an exemption that applies when an agency worker is offered a permanent contract of employment from a Temporary Work Agency and the worker is then paid between jobs by the agency. This may seem like a good deal for an agency worker they know that they will still receive pay from the agency even if they are out of work and struggling to find a job however there are implications with the exemption after 12 weeks of working for a hirer the worker will not be entitled to the same pay as other colleagues working for the hirer who are recruited directly. In my opinion this leaves agency workers vulnerable and exposed to being paid the minimum wage by the agency.
The General Secretary Frances O’Grady has commented:”the regulations are being undermined by a growing number of employers who are putting staff on contracts that deny them equal pay… agency workers on these contracts can still be treated unfairly” I have noticed that Zero Hours Contracts are becoming increasingly popular with employers as they enable employers to employ staff who are effectively ‘on call’ and agree to be available for work as and when required but have no guaranteed hours or times of work. The TUC has also asked the European Commission to investigate and potentially ban “Zero Hours Contracts”.
Despite zero hours contracts giving employers greater flexibility to take on more staff in response to fluctuating demands the question is are they leaving workers vulnerable? Whilst it is positive news to hear that there are now more positions available for agency workers there are concerns that zero hours contracts and the Swedish Derogation exemption are allowing employers to exploit agency workers by providing them with a loophole to pay workers less money.
If you are an agency worker and consider that you are being underpaid or receiving less pay than permanent employees please contact the dedicated team of employment lawyers at Oakwood Solicitors and we will be happy to discuss these issues with you.
Written by Jennifer Fagin


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