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Agency Workers - Definitions and Rights

Key Points

  • The usual employment law definition of worker is used in the Working Time Regulations 1998 and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (see WT regs 1998, reg 2 and National Minimum Wage Act 1998 s.54). This definition would exclude some workers engaged by Employment Agencies, for example because their contract allows them to use substitutes and does not require them to carry out work personally.
  • Special provisions plug the gap (see WT regs 1998, reg 36, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 s.34 and the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 SI 1999/584 reg 2(1) - definition of "worker").
  • A slightly different definition was introduced by Employment Relations Act 1999 s.13(2) for purposes of the right of workers (specifically including agency workers) to be accompanied at disciplinary procedure or grievance hearings.
  • The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 apply to agency workers who are assigned by ‘temporary work agencies’ (TWAs) to carry out work for an employer (the hirer) and the AWR provides a definition of agency worker for these purposes. Special rights are afforded to agency workers under the AWR.
  • The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 and The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force on 6 April 2020.

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