New regulations for agency workers

Organisations are being urged to prepare for the changing regulations on agency workers, which will become law in less than two months.

The Agency Workers Regulation (AWR) gives rights to agency workers regarding pay, rest breaks and annual leave as a direct hire after 12 weeks in an assignment, with additional rights for all agency workers from day one in an assignment.

Crich Consulting, which advises hirers and agencies on the impact of the regulations, said it had been surprised at the lack of knowledge and misconceptions around the regulations, with many hiring companies wrongly believing that the responsibility for compliance rests solely with the recruitment agency.

In fact, all parties have individual and shared responsibilities to ensure that equal treatment is achieved. There are potential fines of £5,000 for avoidance measures that are put in place to deliberately prevent workers from achieving the 12-week qualifying period. The AWR will come into force on 1 October.

Sue Horsfall, of Crich Consulting, said: “It is of the utmost importance that all parties understand all aspects of the Regulations, which in some areas are quite complex, and ensure that compliance solutions are adopted that reduce or negate the potential high cost rises of using agency workers.

“In many cases, if companies do not review their flexible working models prior to implementation of the Regulations, then the costs of using flexible labour will almost certainly increase, which will obviously have a huge effect on the bottom line.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution: every business is different, so it is vital that companies review the regulations in the context of their individual businesses.”

However, specialist recruitment agency Jark said that hiring temporary agency workers was still a viable, flexible and positive option for businesses; it is working closely with butchers and companies to assess individual business and employment needs.

It said that, in some cases, a combination of methods to provide the best long-term approach may be the best solution to the AWR changes. .

A spokesman said: “With the projection that Europe will need 20 million skilled immigrants over the next two decades to deal with skills shortages, hiring temporary skilled workers will be vital to achieving business success.”

Jark has been recruiting skilled workers from across the A8 countries – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – to fill both short- and long-term projects.


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