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House of Commons debate

House of Commons debate flags industry concerns over pensions reform

This weeks House of Commons debate on the Pensions Act included a specific focus on how auto-enrolment would impact on the temporary work market. This has been a major focus for the RECs lobbying work and the industrys concerns were referred to at length during the course of the session.

Addressing the House of Commons Legislations Committee, Nigel Waterson, the Shadow Pensions Minister made the following statement:

We have had representations from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. It does not deem it sensible automatically to enrol a worker into a pension scheme when they may only work a day for a recruitment agency and never be seen again.

A more proportionate response would have been to give a qualifying period before agency workers are automatically enrolled. The bureaucratic burden of automatically enrolling tens of thousands of new agency workers every week simply distracts agencies from their core task that of getting people into work.

The Shadow Pensions Minister also argued in favour of the RECs line that there should be a separate staging date for the recruitment sector and concluded that further thought must be given to how that sector is handled.

Angela Eagle, the Minister of State for Pensions, responded to these comments by under-lining the fact that the aim of the pensions reform is to include as many people in employment as possible and that as a result, agency workers are a key target audience for the reforms.

The Minister of State then acknowledged that there were some practical issues in trying to come up with a different approach for agencies, but will continue to work with organisations such as the REC to ensure there is as smooth a transition as possible for such agencies.

The REC has built strong links with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as well as with the Shadow Pensions team and the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) on this crucial industry issue.

Commenting on the latest developments and on the outcome of the House of Commons Committee, Anne Fairweather, the RECs Head of Public Policy, says:

Comments from both the Minister of State and the Shadow Minister show that the industrys voice is at the heart of this extremely topical debate. We all understand the need to address the pensions time-bomb by driving more workers to save.

However, we have consistently argued the need to address the administrative quagmire that auto-enrolment could create for agencies. From the discussions in the House of Commons, it is clear that our messages are getting across and we will continue to push for a pragmatic approach in our discussions with politicians.

Anne Fairweather concluded: At the same time, we are building strong working relationships with those who will be delivering the new scheme to ensure that, when the time comes, recruiters have the practical support they need to implement the reforms.


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