Agency workers

16 September 2019

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) require that agency workers who are employed for more than 12 weeks receive the same basic terms and conditions of employment as permanent staff.

Regulation 6 says that this entitlement includes having the same terms and conditions relating to 'the duration of working time'. Does this mean an agency worker can use the regulations to insist on the same hours as a permanent employee? The Court of Appeal has looked at this issue in Kocur v Royal Mail.

Mr Kocur was an agency worker who worked alongside permanent members of staff at the Royal Mail depot in Leeds. He worked on average 20 hours a week. He brought a claim, saying that regulation 6 entitled him to the same 39 hour working week as his permanent colleagues. He lost his claim in the employment tribunal and the EAT. He appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Court of Appeal said that reference to 'the duration of working time' was a reference to the limits imposed on working periods by the Working Time Regulations 1998. The AWR were not intended to regulate how much work agency workers were given. The flexibility provided by agency workers would be undermined if a business were required to give them the same hours as someone who is employed directly by the business. This decision will come as a relief to companies who use agency workers during busy periods precisely because of their flexibility.

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