I have heard that ‘Swedish derogation-style’ contracts are no more. What does this mean for me as an agency worker?

You are right – from 6 April 2020, the ‘Swedish derogation’ loophole has been abolished.  

This was a legal loophole under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, used by employers to escape their equal pay obligations to agency workers. (The loophole only ever applied to agency workers’ right to equal pay – not equal hours or holidays.) 

There was widespread evidence that this loophole was being abused by employers. Agency workers hardly ever (if ever) requested to be put on this kind of contract.  

It was called the Swedish derogation because when the Agency Workers Directive was being negotiated in Europe, the Swedish government asked for a special exemption, to reflect normal practice in the use of agency workers in Sweden. 

Unions welcomed the news of the abolition, which is the result of union campaigning, including a formal complaint brought by the TUC to the European Commission. 

Many employers will have been switching away from ‘Swedish derogation-style’ contracts over the 12 months up to April 2020, in anticipation of the change to the law. 

From 6 April 2020, any agency worker who still has a ‘Swedish derogation-style’ contract became entitled to equal pay after twelve weeks on the same assignment for the same hirer. 

Speak to your union rep to find out more.     

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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