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Fairer Deal For Agency Workers

Fairer Deal For Agency Workers

The Government has set out its plans to give Britains 1.3million agency workers a fairer deal in the workplace.

As agreed last year by the TUC and CBI, the changes will give agency workers the right to the same pay, holidays and basic conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks on a given job.

Publishing a consultation on draft regulations to implement the EU Agency Workers Directive, Business Minister Pat McFadden said:

Last year the Government secured a deal in Europe on the Agency Workers Directive that allows us to base Britain's rules on the agreement reached in the UK between the CBI and TUC.

This allows us to implement the Directive in this country in a way which gives fair treatment to agency workers and maintains labour market flexibility. It was only possible because the Government is engaged in the mainstream of Europe actively influencing proposals coming from Europe which affect the UK economy and UK workers. Careful and sometimes difficult negotiations were required to get the CBI-TUC agreement reflected in the final EU Directive.

As the Prime Minister has said, the Government is committed to getting this legislation on the Statute Book by the end of this Parliament. The law will come into force in the UK in October 2011, giving recruiters and their clients time to prepare and plan. We are also mindful of the need to avoid changing requirements on business until the economic recovery is more firmly established.

The consultation on draft regulation launched today sets out detailed proposals for implementation in the UK of the EUs Agency Workers Directive and will run until 11 December 2009. It follows a wide ranging policy consultation that took place earlier in the year.

For the first time agency workers will be entitled to equal treatment on basic working and employment conditions, including pay and holidays, as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer after 12 weeks in a given job.

Other benefits that agency workers will gain from the first day of their assignment include:

information about vacancies in the hirer to give them the same opportunity as other workers to find permanent employment

equal access to on-site facilities such as child care and transport services

improved rights to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers including right to reasonable time off to attend ante-natal appointments and adjustments to working conditions and working hours


Paul Venables, Group Finance Director at Hays, We have worked closely with the REC and CBI to support their efforts to delay its implementation, so welcome todays decision. In the current economic climate its implementation could have reduced the flexi

REC Statement on AWD Draft Regulations
The Department for Business (BIS) has issued its draft regulations outlining how the EU Agency Workers Directive will be implemented in the UK. There will now be an eight week consultation on the draft regulations but one of the key outcomes is that the Government has already taken on board the RECs argument that implementation of the Directive must be delayed until 2011.

Commenting on this mornings publication of the regulations, REC Chief Executive Kevin Green says: This is a significant milestone in what has been an intensive eight year campaign on behalf of the industry in Brussels and Whitehall. We are delighted that key concerns raised by the REC on behalf of members have been listened to and that a number of the recommendations put forward by our Agency Work Commission - in particular with regards to timing - have been taken on board.

Rather than wasting time with politically and legally redundant demands, the REC will continue to adopt a pragmatic approach to making equal treatment work in the UK and to ensuring that agencies receive the support they need. It is essential that the Government continues to listen to those who will be making equal treatment measures work on the ground.
Commenting on some of the specific content within the draft regulations and on the next steps, REC Director of External Relations Tom Hadley says:
The Government has accepted that establishing equal treatment for temporary and contract workers is not as easy as it sounds and that there are a number of practical issues that need to be worked through. Our initial analysis of the draft regulations is that there are some real positives particularly in terms of timing and the scope of what equal treatment covers.
The next few months are an opportunity to influence the final outcome and we will continue to work with the full breadth of the REC membership on this.

The key recommendations that REC has been taking forward are as follows:
The definition of pay should not include wider benefits packages and company bonuses
A practical solution to establishing equal treatment is crucial, comparators should not be the only means
Legitimately self-employed workers should be excluded from the scope of equal treatment
Temp to perm fees should not be affected by these Regulations
Where a worker has a significant break in assignment or moves to a different role within the same employer, the 12 week clock should start again
Legitimate means of derogating from the principle of equal treatment must be maintained
The Directive should not be implemented until 2011.
The REC put forward practical recommendations on implementing equal treatment measures in the UK following the establishment of its Agency Work Commission which was made up of employers, recruiters, employment lawyers and representative bodies such as the CIPD. The REC Employment Policy Committee has also played a pivotal role in driving the RECs campaign.

Initial comments from APSCo
Comments from Ann Swain, Chief Executive of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo):

On the decision to delay implementation of the Directive until October 2011:
"This was something APSCo called for in its submission to the consultation. As it is, this EU initiative will impose huge costs on UK plc, and with unemployment rising, the consequences could be disastrous."

On the decision to exclude limited company contractors but not contractors operating through umbrella companies:

"While the Government is right to exclude limited company contractors, including umbrella company contractors within this legislation creates an artificial distinction based on corporate structure which does not meaningfully reflect the status of the worker. Is the Government really saying that umbrella company contractors are always 'vulnerable' but limited company contractors are not? Clearly there are many umbrella company contractors who earn more than limited company contractors, so this distinction is flawed."

On the decision to have an eight week instead of a four week consultation period:

"It is absolutely vital that sufficient time is taken to get this legislation right. A four week consultation period was always too short and would have run the risk of a poorly drafted law being enacted."

Responding to the announcement that the Government will not implement the Agency Workers Directive until October 2011, Katja Hall, CBI Director of Employment Policy, said: The Agency Workers Directive remains a damaging piece of legislation, but delaying its implementation will help hard-pressed firms and jobseekers. And when it is introduced, clear, easy-to-follow rules for employers are essential. In particular the regulations must set out that equal treatment is to be established against real life employees in the workplace, not the fictional characters called for by the trade unions.

ARCCommenting on Government proposals to delay the implementation of the Agency Workers Directive until 2011, Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of the Association of Recruitment Consultants, (ARC) said:The delay in implementing the Agency Workers Directive is welcome news. We and many others had pressed for this and there is no doubt that many businesses will breathe a sigh of relief. However, it is crystal clear that the real deal is to get the terms of the legislation right, to minimise the potential damage to businesses. In its proposed gold-plated form it will do untold damage to the industry and to agency work.ARC has proposed a trial to assess the true cost and impact of any new legislation and the delay would give the Government time give this idea the go-ahead.The ideas set out in the first consultation document are extremely complex, with the potential for massive disruption and real chaos in the temporary and contract recruitment industry. Faced with that prospect it makes sense to trial the scheme first.

the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has today launched the second consultation on the implementation of the Agency Workers Directive and has also published the summary of responses to the first consultation. Both documents can be found at


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