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General election manifestos signal new costs in hiring temporary workers

General election manifestos signal new costs in hiring temporary workers
Guide to party manifestos published by APSCo
Only Labour explicitly backs the Agency Worker Regulations
The manifestos of all three major political parties suggest that the cost of using temporary workers could jump significantly after the election, warns the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
APSCo says that increases in the cost of hiring temporary workers, many of whom choose to work flexibly because of the work-life benefits and higher than average pay, could impact upon the UKs competitiveness.
Labour has reiterated its support for the Agency Workers Regulations in its manifesto, which would grant most temporary workers the same pay and benefits as permanent employees.
If the Regulations become law in their current form, companies that use temporary workers would have to pay a higher premium for their services.
Although the Conservatives say that they would balance overall new regulation by paring back older statutes, the party offers no direct concessions to users of temporary workers. The Conservatives have also failed to make a manifesto commitment on unproductive red tape that affects freelance professionals, such as the IR35 regulations, despite signalling in recent months that they would do so.
Furthermore, a Conservative government may impose equal pay audits that could complicate the use of temporary workers, thereby increasing end user costs.
A pledge from the Liberal Democrat manifesto guarantees to provide all temporary employees with the right to request flexible working conditions.
APSCo says that that this could heap more pressure on employers who have been using skilled temporary workers to weather the worst effects of the recession. 
Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, comments: It is disappointing that none of the three main parties are committed to improving employer flexibility at a time when the number of permanent vacancies has not yet recovered to pre-recession levels.
Encouragingly, neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats explicitly endorse the Agency Workers Regulations, suggesting that there may be an opportunity to get the Regulations amended after the election prior to their implementation in 2011.
She adds: We were hoping to see a manifesto commitment from the Conservatives to review IR35. It has imposed significant costs on using business professionals on a flexible basis and needs to be reviewed.
APSCo has published a guide to the election manifestos of the three main parties which it is making available to its members.


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