The 12 weeks continuous service needed for equal treatment rights under the Agency Workers Regulations are calculated as follows:
- You must work for the same Client (‘hirer’) in the same job for a total of 12 calendar weeks.
- It does not matter how many hours you work each week, it can be part-time.
- It also does not matter if you have worked for the Client (‘hirer’) through more than 1 agency during these 12 weeks.
The continuity of these 12 weeks will not be broken if you stop working for the Client (but return later to the same job) because:
- You have a break of up to 6 calendar weeks – when you return to the Client to do the same job you start re-counting towards the 12 weeks after your return.
- You are sick or injured and incapable of work or are doing jury service – up to a maximum period of 28 weeks.
- You take a break due to pregnancy or maternity – this time off is ‘protected’ from the start of the pregnancy up until 26 weeks after childbirth (or when you return to work), for as long as the assignment was originally intended to last.
- You take a break on statutory maternity/paternity/adoption leave – where you are entitled to this – protected for up to 26 weeks after childbirth (or when you return to work) for as long as the assignment was originally intended to last.
- You take accrued annual leave entitlement.
- If the ‘hirers’ workplace is shut (e.g. for Christmas or because of industrial action).
N.B. A pregnant agency worker does not have any further rights under the AWR beyond those they are already entitled to and they do not have an automatic right to return to work after maternity leave.
This continuity of the 12 weeks will be broken, however, if an agency worker:
Starts a new assignment with a different client.
- Has a 6 week or longer break from the same (original) client. You can, for example, work in the same assignment for 10 weeks then not work for the same client for another 4 weeks, but then return to the same client in the same job and would be entitled to equal treatment 2 weeks into the second assignment.
- Starts a new role with the same (original) client that is substantially different from the previous role (e.g. different skills are needed, hours are different, pay is different, different location, different line manager).