Commentary

A. Introduction to agency workers

Division AI Categories of Worker
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A. Introduction to agency workers

| Commentary

4.     Agency workers

Contributing Editor

IAN SMITH MA, LLB

of Gray's Inn, Barrister; Emeritus Professor of Employment Law at the University of East Anglia

A.     Introduction to agency workers

Although the United Kingdom economy uses agency provided workers to a much greater extent than those of most other member states of the EU, their precise legal status and rights have long been uncertain. To an extent, this has been recognised by modern legislation which has treated them separately; examples of this can be seen not just in areas such as taxation, but also in more mainstream employment legislation such as that on the national minimum wage (NMWA 1998 s 34, see BI [171]) and working time (Working Time Regulations 1998 reg 36, see CI [46]). To that extent, it has often been the case in the past that the basic position of the agency worker has been circumvented, not addressed. However, in more recent times it has not been possible to do so in three important areas, where the general law has had to become more involved:

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    (1)     the regulation of employment agencies and businesses: this is now covered by the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and, more particularly by the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 SI 2003/3319;

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    (2)     the employment protection rights of agency workers: this has caused considerable problems over several years because it goes to the heart of the question of the legal position of

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