What is AWR?

The Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) is an EU directive which was implemented in the UK in October 2011. Designed to protect the working and employment conditions of contractors, freelancers and temporary workers, the directive had a wide range of implications for the staffing sector and its supply chain. Since the introduction of AWR, recruitment businesses using non-compliant umbrella companies leave themselves exposed to costly employment tribunals if a claim is upheld.

What are agency workers entitled to?

After a qualifying period of 12 weeks, any agency worker in the UK is entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as they would be if they had been recruited and hired by the client to do the same job. This includes:

  • Equal pay including holiday pay, bonuses, commission etc.
  • Equal working time, rest breaks, rest periods, night work and annual leave 

Plus, from day one, the client is responsible for making sure all agency workers have access to:

  • Collective facilities and amenities such as a canteen, childcare facilities and transport facilities
  • Information regarding relevant permanent vacancies

Our response to AWR

As one of the most trusted and experienced providers in the industry, Parasol created compliant solutions designed to protect both our recruitment partners and lower paid agency workers. Our dedicated AWR team had an active role in the consultation process prior to the publication of the AWR guidance notes. As a result we’ve been pro-active in sharing our knowledge and experience with the industry.

At Parasol we have two compliant models in place for agency workers: Match Permanent Pay (MPP) and Swedish Derogation.

Our MPP model ensures that an agency worker receives the same pay as their permanent equivalent after 12 weeks. Under this model, recruiters or end clients need to supply comparator data for the permanent equivalent.

Our Swedish Derogation model provides extra benefits to the worker including pay between assignments and help finding their next contract. This does however exclude them from the right to equal pay.

The table below shows the differences between the two models:

Match Perm Pay v Swedish Derogation


What does AWR mean for recruitment agencies?

The responsibility for providing the temporary worker with equal rights is split equally between the client, the recruitment agency and the umbrella company. Our compliant models help agencies mitigate the risk and we’ll work with you to make sure we receive the comparative data we need, when we need it to avoid any issues.

Costly financial penalties are in place for any party who breaks, or appears to break the rules. Measures also exist which target clients and agencies who structure assignments deliberately, so a temporary worker doesn’t qualify for equal conditions which they would typically be entitled to after the qualifying period. An example of this could be a contract which includes an artificial ‘break’ with the intention of avoiding the 12 week rule.

It’s important to remember that the 12 week rule includes multiple assignments if it’s the same role with the same client, even if the assignment has come through a different agency. As a recruiter, it’s essential that you have a thorough understanding of where the candidate has been prior to the contract on offer.

Why Parasol?

Parasol is the UK’s leading onshore professional employment organisation. By using Parasol, you can be sure that we mitigate both the employment and AWR risk to your business. We’re a founder member of the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) so compliance is at the heart of everything we do.

For more information on AWR, please give our agency team a call on 0844 815 9950 or email: corporate@parasolgroup.co.uk.