The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 have now been published, completing implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations (“AWR”) across the United Kingdom. Unlike mainland UK, the Regulations will be introduced in Northern Ireland on 5th December 2011, the deadline for implementation required by the Directive. Given that the AWR represents one of the most significant legislative changes for the recruitment industry in years, as well as the added costs that will be incurred by UK businesses as a result, it begs the question as to why the rest of the UK sought to implement the Directive two months ahead of the deadline? 

On close comparison with the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 in force across the remainder of the UK, all core provisions are largely the same; the only minor differences being that the Northern Ireland Regulations do not contain provisions for House of Lords or House of Commons staff. Accordingly, agency workers will be entitled to have access to collective facilities and job vacancies from day one of their assignment, and after the twelve week qualifying period the right to the same basic working and employment conditions as they would have received had they been directly engaged by the hirer.

As across the remainder of the UK, the Regulations are not retrospective, so for those agency workers already on assignment the day one rights will apply from 5th December 2011, and the twelve week rights will not be able to apply until 27th February 2012.

The Department for Employment and Learning (“the DEL”), the Northern Ireland Government department responsible for employment rights and responsibilities, recently published its guidance on the Northern Ireland Regulations. Much of the guidance appears to mirror that published by the Department of BIS in May 2011. As a result, one noticeable ‘slip-up’ is that the guidance from the DEL does not reflect the subsequent amendments made to the AWR in August 2011.

For advice on the Agency Workers Regulations, please contact Lawspeed on 01273 236 236.