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Becky Davage
1st April, 2015

Contract Workers Unaware Of Their Rights, Study Suggests

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A recent study has highlighted the issue of agency workers' employment rights, finding that many are unaware of their entitlements and are afraid to discuss them with their employer, Personnel Today reports.

The report, entitled 'Three sides to every story: the impact of the Agency Worker Regulations' and conducted by Acas, compiled evidence about agency workers alongside its own records of companies and employees who have contacted them for advice via their helpline.

Of these calls, it was found that an average of one in five related to contractors – many of whom felt insecure about their contracts and distrustful of their employers.

Chair of Acas, Sir Brendan Barber, compared the feelings expressed by agency workers to employees signed up to zero-hours contracts.

"We found examples of agency workers who were afraid of questioning their employment rights or completely unaware that they were entitled to some basic rights," he explained.

These rights include things such as holiday pay entitlement and notice periods. Many contractors were also unaware that they were entitled to the same rights as any standard employee once they had worked for an employer for 12 weeks.

Equally as concerning was the discovery that some workers felt their employers weren't delegating certain tasks that they were qualified to do, and that they were afraid to raise these issues with their employer for fear of losing their job.

Commenting on the report, Kevin Green, chief executive officer of the REC, emphasised the importance of looking at the findings in context: "Of the 900,000 calls Acas received in 2014, 0.3% were related to agency work, and of this 0.3%, 43% were from agency workers. That's 967 calls out of 1.15 million agency workers who are out on assignments on any given day."

He also felt 'disappointed' with how Acas had presented the results, noting that recruiters had a legal obligation to ensure individuals were aware of their employment rights and terms of contract. What's more, those who are members of the REC have to adhere to its strict compliance standards, he added.

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