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A contractors guide to the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR)

Blog post written by Churchill Knight Umbrella


The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) came into effect on the 1st October 2011 to govern the basic rights of temporary agency workers in the UK and bring them in line with those who are permanently employed in a similar role.

Background to the Agency Worker Regulations

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) ensures that any temporary worker working in the same role for 12 weeks or more will be entitled to the same working conditions as a permanent employee in the same job. The legislation works to regulate the working conditions of temporary workers by affording them the same working conditions, holiday allowances and pay as regular employees. The AWR legislation protects temporary workers and contractors working through an agency or umbrella company, contractors working through their own limited company are unaffected.

What do the regulations mean for contractors?

Day 1 rights

From the first day of your assignment, agency workers must have access to site facilities such as a canteen, childcare facilities, food or drinks machine, transport facilities, or a car park. Temporary workers are also entitled to access information on job vacancies from the first day of the assignment.

After 12 weeks in the same role for the same end client

The equal treatment entitlements in respect of pay and basic working conditions come into effect after a temporary worker completes a 12-week qualifying period in the same job role for the same end client. Your rights will include:

  • Equal pay – the same rate of pay to a comparable permanent member of staff in the same or similar role.
  • Paid annual leave.
  • Pension enrolment.

Are there any exemptions to the Agency Worker Regulations?

There are only two exemptions to the AWR:

  • The status of the agency or hirer is that of a customer or client of a professional service. A professional is usually certified by a professional body such as a lawyer, accountant or doctor. A professional providing services to a customer or client is not generally working under that person’s supervision or direction.
  • Contractors and freelancers operating outside IR35 legislation and working via their own limited company will generally be out of the scope of AWR as they are in business on their own account.

Do umbrella companies have to abide by the Agency Worker Regulations?

As umbrella companies employ temporary workers using a contract of employment, they must also comply with employment law. Therefore, temporary workers employed by an umbrella company are entitled to full statutory rights and protection from the AWR (once they have completed 12 weeks in their role). AWR ensures that once the employment costs are deducted from the assignment rate, the funds processed for the salary of the temporary worker by the umbrella company are the same or more than the wage earned by a permanent member of staff working in the same role for the end client. This means that the employment costs and umbrella company margin are considered when performing AWR checks to ensure the contractor is paid in line with AWR requirements.

What happens if a contractor changes agencies mid-way through a contract?

If you change recruitment agencies mid-way through a contract but continue to work in the same role for the same end client, AWR would still apply. However, if you changed recruitment agency and moved to a new workplace or role, AWR would not apply until you completed 12 weeks in the new role.

Churchill Knight Umbrella

Churchill Knight Umbrella is an FCSA accredited umbrella company and the first choice for thousands of contractors and freelancers in the UK. Since launching in 2016, Churchill Knight Umbrella has built a reputation as a leading umbrella dedicated to customer service and compliance. As a result, they find themselves on an ever-growing number of recruitment agency Preferred Supplier Lists. For more information about Churchill Knight Umbrella and to request a free, tailored take home pay calculation, please visit their website.