New Employment Legislation - How This Will Impact Your Business

New Employment Legislation - How This Will Impact Your Business

Over the last month the Recruitment team here at Escape have been working hard to make sure that our Freelancers and Clients are fully compliant with the new UK employment legislation that comes into effect on October 1st 2011.

This could have a massive effect on how studios utilise temporary workers and as the VFX industry relies heavily on these types of worker it could have a very big impact indeed.

Smaller to medium sized studios who do not have the luxury of having a HR department to track their freelancers could be particularly vulnerable.

Keep calm and carry on...
If you are reading this and finding it all rather alarming there is no need to panic. Escape have come up with a number of solutions that mean our clients can still carry on and utilise our freelancers without having any impact on their day to day business and still be fully compliant with the new laws.

So whether you are a freelancer or a studio, get in touch today and find out how we can make the transition as painless as possible.

What is AWR?
Anyone keeping an eye on the contractor press recently will have seen a step change in the amount of coverage being devoted to the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), a relatively new piece of legislation which comes into effect on the 1st of October 2011 and one that has the potential to make a significant impact on the contracting market. However, if any of the straw polls that have been conducted are anything to go by, then the majority of contractors remain in the dark over what the AWR is and what it means for contractors, interims and temporary workers in the VFX industry.

The purpose of the regulations is to provide temporary workers with equal treatment in terms of basic working and employment conditions as if they had been employed directly to do the same job. The rights will apply after a 12 week qualifying period.

Following the 12 week qualifying period the temporary workers will be entitled to equal treatment, including; pay, working hours, overtime, breaks, holidays and access to training and collective facilities. Equal treatment does not apply to sick pay or paternity/maternity leave.

What's included in the AWR?
When referring to conditions, the AWR is referring to:

  • Pay
  • Holidays
  • Hours of work
  • Night work
  • Rest periods and breaks
  • The right to hear about vacant posts within the business
  • The right to use collective facilities such as a canteen, childcare facilities or transport services

What's excluded from the AWR?
The main employment conditions that are excluded from the AWR legislation are:

  • Occupational sick pay
  • Pensions
  • Parental leave
  • Redundancy payments
  • Share schemes
  • Long service award schemes

How is the 12-week qualifying period calculated?
It is 12 calendar weeks regardless of working pattern (full-time or part-time). A new qualifying period will begin only if a new assignment with the same employer is substantively different OR if there is a break of more than six weeks between assignments in the same role.

There is no break in an assignment when the client’s workplace is effectively closed (i.e. during school holidays or industrial action). For agency workers taking time off following childbirth the worker will continue to accrue her qualifying period whilst off work. If the worker takes off more than 26 weeks, the assignment will be broken and she will need to accumulate 12 weeks in a new job to qualify for equal treatment.

Qualifying weeks can also be brought forward if there is a break in assignment caused by: sickness or injury (provided the worker can evidence this to the agency); maternity, adoption or paternity leave and jury service. Any time worked before 1st October 2011 will not count towards the qualifying period for equal treatment. Workers on assignment on 1st October 2011 will qualify for day one rights.

What are day one rights?
Some aspects of equal treatment apply before the 12-week qualifying period i.e from day one of the worker’s assignment. These are:

  • Access to permanent employment with the client (i.e. vacancy lists) except where the client is re-structuring their business as part of an internal re-organisation.
  • Access to facilities (i.e. canteen, childcare, transport)
7 Comments Garreth Gaydon

Posted by
Garreth Gaydon
Wed 28 Sep 2011: 8:34am

Tags: ,


  • Toby Young:

    Jamie, our recruitment department has been set up to make sure our freelancers and escapees maximise their take home pay by not charging them a fee for the service.

  • Jamie:

    This is interesting, so this means charging the studio a fee (which inevitably affects a freelancers day rate, so in effect means the same thing as a % fee in my opinion especially on starter day rates of around £80 which many new graduates recieve), allowing a higher return than most recruitment models per placement? Is a freelancer entitled to know what the outsourcing recruitment fee is? Is there a calculation or a flat fee across the board? I think simons comment really was a valid point of comparison between escape and other recruitment agencies. Escape holds a dominant and unique position as a recruiter for VFX and escapes fee system seems more evasive than I would like to see in a company who regards its reputation looking after the interests of new entrants to the industry.

  • Toby Young:

    Escape do not charge our freelancers a percentage of their day rate, the day rate agreed with the freelancer is what they get paid at point of invoice. The fee is paid by the end user (the studio) who pay us for the service of outsourcing their recruitment.

  • Toby Young:

    Some good points being made.

    It is going to be interesting to see how this does effect the industry.

    The good news is that all freelancers/contractors working through Escape will be protected by the new legislation and in turn will mean that the Studios we work with will also be fully compliant.

    It will also mean that smaller studios using Escape as an option for contractors do not need to hire extra resources to make sure they are adhering to the AWR, we will make sure that they are compliant from our end so they can concentrate on doing what they do best and delivering projects to their clients.

  • Ed Brown:

    Anyone else working 3-month contracts regularly? No? Didn't think so. This may be the death knell for 'permalance' contracts as employers duck the legislation, or it may, as intended, encourage ethical treatment of non-permanent staff. Who knows? We'll soon see how reluctant the studios are to re-hire their favourite freelancers

  • Simon:

    I also hope that escape is transparent about the Agency fee they take. Most if not all take 12.5 % and this is stipulated on the contact clearly.
    This is a good move for the industry moving forward,

  • Jamie:

    For the percentage of artists affected by this, the legislation is brought about to protect them. The vulnerability of of medium sized studios should NOT be a concern. If those studios feel that giving artists equal working conditions leaves them vunerable then theres a problem in the industry that needs to be addressed. Often new artists can be taken advantage of because they are willing waive certain rights in order to gain employment in a difficult industry. This couldn't have come sooner. Well done.

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