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Agency workers

Information for agency worker members of UCU.

Agency Workers Regulations 2010

The long awaited Agency Workers Regulations 2010 finally came into force on 1 October 2011. The regulations introduce new 'day 1 rights' which agency workers are entitled to now and from the first day of every assignment. The clock also started ticking on the 12 week qualifying period for access to the new 'equal treatment' entitlements.

'Day 1 rights' are:

  • Access to all facilities and amenities provided for directly employed workers such as canteen, staffroom, childcare facilities, sporting and social facilities etc. Employers must provide objective justification for blocking access.
  • Information on job vacancies at the hirers workplace.

'Equal treatment' entitlements after 12 weeks in the same job with same hirer:

  • Key elements of pay
  • Normal working hours
  • Rest periods and breaks
  • Annual leave
  • Paid time for ante natal appointments

However 'equal treatment' does not include:

  • Sick pay
  • Pensions
  • Maternity, paternity or adoption pay
  • Bonuses which are not connected to an individual's performance          
  • Redundancy pay
  • Advances in pay or loans
  • Expenses
  • Share ownership schemes etc
  • Benefits in kind

UCU supports more secure employment contracts and fair comparators for agency staff

UCU welcomes the improvements in terms and conditions that agency workers will receive after the qualifying period and branch officers will be watching closely to make sure that where agency staff are being used that their equal treatment rights are matched to the right comparator. Agency staff are advised to join the union now and keep accurate records of all their assignments from this week onwards so when their clock reaches 12 weeks they have all the information that their UCU branch will need to make sure they are getting a fair comparator.

There will be a significant increase in the cost of using agency workers in many colleges where previously unregulated pay was lower than their directly employed counterparts. However since VAT was applied to the entire wage of an agency worker in April 2009 the cost of using agency staff has increased significantly. In the current funding environment colleges cannot justify paying good money after bad in agency fees and VAT on wages. There is a cheaper alternative that is more secure for the agency lecturers and less wasteful of precious funding,  direct employment contracts.

UCU is ready to negotiate an orderly transfer to direct employment

UCU branches with significant ongoing use of agency staff should ask their management how they plan to cover the increased costs and offer to negotiate an orderly transfer to direct employment contract arrangements for agency staff. Before entering actual contract negotiations or responding to counter proposals e.g. variable hours contracts please contact your regional office for the latest advice and support on contract negotiations.

Protocol National

UCU is pleased to note that Protocol National, probably the largest agency for lecturers in FE, appear to be gearing up to honour the new regulations. UCU was always opposed to Protocol National's contractual arrangements that made visiting lecturers on their books 'self employed' when they were on assignments. Many members working for Protocol National complained to UCU that despite the contractual arrangements with PN their day to day experience did not reflect that of being self employed.

UCU together with other education unions successfully argued during consultation for the 6 week break in assignments that resets the qualifying clock not include periods of workplace closure which would have otherwise reset the qualifying clock for agency workers in education every summer.

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