Agency Workers’ Directive (AWD)
A European Union Directive agreed upon in November 2008 that seeks to improve the quality of temporary agency work by applying the principle of non-discrimination and to address unnecessary restrictions and prohibitions on the use of temporary agency work in the European Union. Under the Directive, an agency worker will be entitled to equal treatment (at least the basic working and employment conditions that would apply to the workers concerned if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to occupy the same job. “Equal treatment” relates only to basic working and employment conditions of temporary agency workers (e.g., pay, working time) and does not affect the employment status of temporary workers. As with all EU Directives, the purpose of the AWD is to harmonize the law across the common market. Though it was originally proposed in 2002, the British government and others blocked its enactment until 2008. However, the U.K. government was successful in negotiating a derogation whereby equal treatment will only apply in the U.K. after 12 weeks in a given temporary job. All EU member states must amend laws and regulations in order to comply with the AWD by Dec. 5, 2011. Term mainly used in Western Europe.