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Conditions of Employment

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 6369, tabled on 24 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) agency workers and (b) other workers are treated fairly, respectfully and that their rights are protected.

Answered on

2 June 2021

The Government is committed to protecting and enhancing workers’ rights, including for agency workers. In the past year the Government has taken a variety of actions to support workers. These include increasing the National Living Wage for around 2 million workers, extending eligibility for the minimum wage to thousands of seafarers, enabling workers to carry over more annual leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ensured that those made redundant after a period of furlough do not lose out on redundancy pay, increasing the reference period employers use to calculate holiday pay to improve seasonal workers’ wages, and ensuring that prospective parents who are furloughed do not lose out on maternity pay entitlements and other forms of parental pay.

The Government has also introduced additional protections for agency workers. From 6 April 2020 the Government banned the use of ‘Swedish Derogation’ contracts, ensuring agency workers cannot opt out of their right to equal pay with permanent counterparts after the twelve-week qualifying period in the same role with the same hirer. We have also introduced the requirement for employment businesses to give new agency workers a Key Information Document to improve transparency around pay. The Government has also committed to extend the remit of the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, which enforces agency workers’ rights, so that they can investigate relevant complaints involving umbrella companies and seek compliance from them. EAS has also doubled the number of frontline inspector roles.