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Agency Worker Regulations: What do they mean?

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) were introduced in the UK in 2010 with the aim of tackling discrimination against agency workers. These regulations also affect agencies, end-clients and umbrella employers, as they all are responsible for ensuring that agency workers are treated fairly and receive the same rights as permanent employees.

What are the key aspects of the AWR?

The AWR can be broken down into two main categories: day-one rights and 12-week rights.

Day-one rights apply to all agency workers from the moment they start working on a new assignment. These rights include:

  • Access to staff common areas, such as break rooms and canteens.
  • Equal access to staff transport arrangements, such as car parking.
  • Equal access to childcare facilities
  • Equal notice of job vacancies that are available to permanent staff.

12-week rights apply to agency workers after they have worked for 12 weeks or more. These rights include:

  • Equality of pay between temporary workers and permanent employees, including performance bonuses and commissions where applicable.
  • Equality of working hours and times, meaning temporary workers cannot be compelled to work longer hours or hours that permanent employees would not be compelled to work.
  • Equal leave entitlement, including holiday accruement in line with permanent employees.
  • Time off for antenatal appointments and, if pregnancy makes a role unsuitable or potentially harmful, a reasonable reallocation of duties should be made where possible.

Who is covered by the AWR?

The Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) are applicable to individuals employed through an umbrella company as agency workers. On the other hand, contractors and freelancers who do not work through an agency, are not classified as agency workers and are, therefore, not subject to these regulations.

Tips for agencies

  • Ensure that you are aware of your obligations under the AWR. You can find more information on the AWR on the government website.
  • Work with an umbrella company that is accredited by Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA). They will send you timely requests for data to help compare parity of pay, in turn helping you meet your obligations.
  • FCSA assesses all members on their AWR process, You can read more about the standards we expect within Section F of our Umbrella code.
  • Encourage your end client to be transparent and share information when requested.


It is crucial to comply with the AWR, a set of regulations that safeguard the rights of agency workers. Partnering with a reputable umbrella company and being aware of your responsibilities under the AWR can greatly assist in ensuring that agency workers are treated equitably.


Please note that this article is not intended to be interpreted as legal advice.