Agency Worker Regulations

Questioning whether you fall into the scope of AWR or simply want to know what AWR is? We've got you.

What are the Agency Worker Regulations?

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) came into effect on 1st October 2011, with a view to giving direct effect to the EU temporary workers directive, effectively being the legislation governing temporary agency work in the UK. Essentially, the AWR were intended to bring the basic rights of temporary agency workers more in line with the rights of those who are on permanent contracts of employment and are in a similar role.

Thoughtful contractor

Are contractors covered by the AWR?

The regulations apply only to individuals working temporarily under the supervision of a hirer under contract with a temporary working agency, which means that the AWR specifically covers PAYE workers and those who work through an umbrella company.

It's important to note, however, that these regulations do not apply to individuals providing services through a PSC (where an individual is in business on their own account). For example, should you completely manage yourself and have the ability to provide a substitute to carry out the services you provide, you will fall outside the scope of the Agency Worker Regulations. Limited companies which are not deemed to be in business on their own account will, however, be covered by these regulations, meaning that not all contractors are excluded, giving some contractors the benefit of those additional rights detailed above.

Advantages of the Agency Worker Regulations

If you fall within the scope of the AWR, you will gain certain additional rights, as follows:


  • "Day one" rights
  • Regulations 12 and 13 state that a hirer must allow all workers access to its collective facilities as may be provided by them (such as canteen access, parking and child-care facilities, for example), and that they must provide all workers with access to information about any relevant job vacancies they may have within the organisation; these rights are granted from the very first day of a worker’s assignment.

  • "Week twelve" rights
  • Regulation 5(2) provides for workers to have the same basic working and employment conditions as they would usually be entitled to had they been recruited and engaged directly by the hirer at the beginning of the 12 week period. Basic working and employment conditions include the relevant terms and conditions which would usually be included in both the contracts of employees and workers of the hirer.

For the purposes of the Agency Worker Regulations, “relevant terms and conditions” refer to those relating to things such as pay, breaks and annual leave. There is also a continuing obligation on the hirer in this scenario; for example, should the annual leave allowance for a comparable employee/worker be increased, the agency worker should also receive such an increase. These rights are only granted following 12 continuous weeks in the same role with the same hirer.

The transactional process of the AWR

If you are covered by the AWR, you do not have the option to “opt-out” as with the Conduct Regulations, however as mentioned before, if you are operating as a limited company and genuinely in business on your own account, you will be considered to be outside the scope of the AWR in any event.

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