AWR is here - Keep Calm and Carry On

We've mentioned them here before, but they're finally in place. There's been lots of worry from agencies and clients alike about the issues involved, but with a little preparation they're really not too bad (in our view!).Here's a little question and answer guide:What is the Agency Worker Regulation (AWR)?The AWR is a new European law that has been implemented by the UK parliament in 2010, and went live at the start in October 2011. Its aim is to give greater benefits to agency workers, particularly after 12 weeks of work at a setting (or group of nurseries).From of 1st October 2011, the temporary workers are entitled to access the same facilities as your own staff and be made aware of any permanent vacancies. The bigger part comes after 12 weeks when the AWR gives agency workers the right to the same pay and benefits as your equivalent full-time staff.Don't worry right now though, because the 12 weeks start from the 1st of October, the soonest any temporary pay and benefits changes will happen is around Christmas time.How is the 12 weeks (also known as the Qualifying Period) made up?12 weeks sounds like a long time, but under the regulations a “week” can be as little as 1 shift, and there can be breaks of up to 6 weeks between each “week”.These breaks can be even longer for statutory sickness, maternity / paternity / adoption leave, and include standard closures such as if your setting shuts down for Easter, August or Christmas.The 12 weeks may also be made up of supply via different agencies - eg if you have a temporary worker for 11 weeks via 1 agency and then they come via Bretsa - they would be at 12 week qualifying period at the end of that week.If you have multiple sites then the 12 weeks may be made up of 6 weeks at site A then 6 weeks at site B.What happens after the 12 weeks Qualifying Period?The basic concept is that after 12 weeks, the temporary worker will have qualified (be entitled to) for the hourly pay, overtime and benefits that permanent staff are entitled to. For example this may include:• Matching any increase in pay, overtime rates, lunch vouchers or bonus payments• Matching any increase in holiday entitlement (28 days including bank holidays)What happens if the setting pays less than the agency?In that case the agency worker pay rate stays the same, and we would just need to check other benefits like holiday pay etc – and arrange to match any uplift.What happens if the setting or Bretsa miss the 12 week mark?Then the temporary worker may bring an AWR claim against the setting, or Bretsa, or both of us!How will Bretsa monitor the 12 weeks?Monitoring agency worker qualifying periods is a joint effort between the setting and us.We at Bretsa have recently updated our booking software to help us monitor individuals. But we will need your help.You’re probably familiar with our confirmation emails which show the name, CRB information, grade and photo. From 1st October they will show a new question asking you to check if the person has been before via any other agency.If this is the worker’s first visit to your setting through us it’s very important that you check and respond to this – as failure to do so may have legal ramifications for both you and us.How should the setting monitor the 12 weeks?From the 1st of October 2011 you should keep a register of temporary workers who have been to your setting (or group settings), and let us know if the worker has been to you before via another agency either verbally at the time of booking, or via our confirmation emails.You’ll need to give us information on the pay and benefits your equivalent staff get so that we can make arrangements to pre-empt any relevant 12 week Qualifying Period changes.We’ve put together handy simple forms to help you with this process (you can find it at the end of the new terms of business), and we’ll be happy go through them with you.And of course you’ll need to keep us updated on any annual pay or benefit changes that might take effect for your equivalent staff.Does this mean the setting has to keep workers longer than normal?No, your usage patterns don’t have to change. You’re never required to keep anyone longer than you need them, and just like now you can stop using a temporary worker if your needs change.So basically?It really is business as usual – except from the 1st of October you now have to:o Give temporary agency staff the same access to facilities as your own staffo Put permanent vacancies up on the noticeboardo Keep a log of temporary workers names and their dates of assignments within yourorganisationo Keep us up to date about your pay and benefits for the equivalent workers that we supplyThere's a lot to read through there, but feel free to ask us anything - we're up to date and we've got new systems - this will all feel routine in just a few months!We're open from 7am to 6pm weekdays - drop us a line on 020 8858 5958.

Posted by: Bretsa on October 5th, 2011 @ 2:39 PM


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