Fear grows over AWR loopholes

Some unions allege that, under the new AWR, workers’ rights may end up worse despite the fact that they have been implemented to improve them.

Some unions have claimed that, under the new Agency Workers Regulations, workers’ rights may end up worse despite the fact they have been implemented to improve them. It is feared that many big employers may exploit loopholes in the regulations. The new regulations, which have taken 10 years to confirm, finally came into effect on the first of this month.

However, a number of the UK’s 1.4 million agency workers have been put under pressure to relinquish their rights by employers. It has been claimed that some companies are getting around the regulations by making the job agency, not the end client, the workers’ employer.

Unions have said this will make workers less likely to be hired as permanent staff. One union officer stated that the regulations, which were supposed to give workers security, have in fact left them in a worse off position.

It is claimed that employers are getting around AWR by implementing an opt-out clause known as the “Swedish Derogation Model”. This clause allows the employer to request that temporary workers are signed onto the recruitment agency’s books, rather than their own. This permits the employer to disregard the comparative pay between an agency worker and a permanent member of staff, however under this model it would not affect their benefits and other rights protected by AWR.

The Swedish Derogation Model has been recognised by the government and other bodies; it is argued that it ensures agency work continues to be competitive and flexible.  The concerns raised around the Swedish Derogation Model will not affect many high end contractors such as those in the financial sector, many of whom earn more than their permanent counterpart.

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