I suspect that my assignments are being manipulated to avoid me meeting the 12-week qualifying period for equal treatment. Is there anything I can do?

In these circumstances, it is best to speak to your union (or an advice agency if you are not a union member) as they will be able to advise on your specific situation. The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) include provisions that seek to prevent hirers and agencies from hiring you on a succession of assignments, or from rotating you within an organisation, in order to prevent you from qualifying for equal treatment rights. The anti-avoidance provisions apply if: 

  • you have been moved to more than two substantively different roles with the hirer (or within a company associated with the hirer) or you had been hired on a succession of more than two assignments with a hirer. 

  • the most likely reason you were rotated or hired on the succession of assignments was because the agency or hirer (or associated company) intended to prevent you from qualifying for equal treatment; and 

  • you would have qualified for equal treatment if you had not been moved or hired on a succession of assignments. 

Where an employment tribunal decides that a hirer or agency has breached these anti-avoidance provisions, they can award you up to £20,000. 

It is a good idea to keep detailed records of your assignments, including who you worked for and for how long, and any breaks you had from work, including for holiday, sickness or where the employer did not require you. This information may assist in assessing whether the anti-avoidance measures apply. 

If you believe that your assignments are being manipulated to avoid giving you and your fellow agency workers decent terms and conditions and you are not yet a member of a trade union, consider joining a union and trying to build union membership among fellow agency workers at the agency, so that a union can apply for recognition at the agency. 

A trade union will be able to bargain for decent terms and conditions, making it harder for your agency to exploit loopholes to avoid paying decent wages. You can find information about how to join a union on our Union Finder tool

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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