Growers urged to check agency pay compliance

Recruiter guidance made available for companies to understand their duties under terms of the Agency Worker Directive.


Employers of seasonal staff need to be aware of the provisions of the Agency Workers Directive that came into force this month, growers have been warned.

JG Recruitment Specialists director Dr Julia Gardner said: "The directive is there to give agency staff equal treatment to permanent staff. So if you have a member of staff on £25,000 doing the same work as an agency worker on the minimum wage, after 12 weeks you will have to pay them the same."

She cautioned that employers who tried to duck such obligations by terminating and recommencing contracts with temporary staff could be liable to a £5,000 fine. However, this has yet to be tested in the courts, she added.

"A lot of companies have buried their heads in the sand about this until now, although there has been a lot of support from recruiters and industry bodies."

The UK enactment makes use of the so-called Swedish derogation, which excludes staff employed directly by agencies from the equal pay obligation.

But Gardner pointed out: "They would still have to have full terms and conditions of employment in their contract, including elements such as holiday pay. They are likely to pass on those."

The Association of Labour Providers has played down the impact of the directive. Director David Camp said: "Labour providers have been preparing for this for some time and have put procedures in place.

"We have been running training courses over the past 18 months and continue to do so, as well as providing template contracts and guidance documents."

He continued: "It will mean some changes in administration systems. But there is no reason it should add to labour costs, if businesses look at their pattern of labour use and the structure of their remuneration in totality."

Licensing check - Standards under review

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has said that for now it will not be checking employers for compliance with the Agency Workers Directive (AWD).

Director of strategy Darryl Dixon told Grower: "We have no intention to do so at the moment. We enforce against licensing standards and we are undertaking a review of these.

"How AWD is reflected in those standards depends on the conclusion of that consultation. Any changes will then be enforced from next April," he added.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

What should growers make of the Government's migration report?

By holding out the "possibility" of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS), the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) long-awaited final report, published this week, makes an exception for fresh produce amid its wider call for a shift away from low-skill immigration.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

The publication of the Agriculture Bill this week formally kick-starts the Government's plans to implement a "green Brexit" for farming, the area of the economy most impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the EU from next March.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon