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Randstad report reveals 7% of employers are prepared for new legislation affecting agency worker

New Randstad report reveals that only 7% of employers are prepared for new legislation affecting agency workers

New Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) set to be enforced later this year will entitle some agency workers to many of the same employment benefits and working conditions offered to permanent employees. Randstad's new Shifting Sands report reveals that only 7% of employers have prepared themselves for the changes and 67% of candidates are unaware of the legislation altogether.

As such there is growing concern that neither clients nor candidates are ready for the change, so what impact will these changes have both upon the workplace and the creative and communications industries as a whole?

What is AWR?

Implemented in the UK this October, AWRs purpose is to protect agency workers by ensuring that they benefit from the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been employed directly by the hirer.

Some rights will apply from day one, such as the same access to facilities and job vacancies. Other rights, such as pay and some benefits, will apply after the agency worker has been in the same job for 12 weeks.

How will it impact creative organisations?

Major Players reports that more than three quarters of their placements made over the last year were freelance, suggesting that the current guidelines are set to have a significant impact on the creative industry. Particularly in terms of how agencies manage and resource for projects, comments Jack Gratton, Major Players CEO:

"Agencies working within the creative industry will need to be aware of the AWR and the associated implications it may have upon the recruitment process. Its possible that the qualifying period will affect how clients plan and allocate time for projects, particularly as many projects are extended and contracts can become ongoing a more strategic approach when resourcing contractors for projects may be needed.

Interestingly, the report revealed that up to 52% of clients said that their use of agency workers would stay the same, regardless of the risk of an increased cost and complications, sparking more concern that not enough organisations are thinking seriously of the implications of AWR.

How will it impact creative freelancers?

With only 33% of candidates reported as unaware of these changes, the general reaction to AWR has been slow. In addition, many who are aware feel the legislation will not benefit agency workers in the long run and will act more as an inconvenience.

I have chosen to be a contract worker and I actively do not want the same rights as a permanent employee. Why should this be enforced upon me?

This viewpoint could well apply to the creative industry, where many agency workers enjoy the flexibility and variety offered by freelance work. Justifiably so, agrees Mark Begley, Head of Recruitment for Creative & Design: Within the industry, professionals are looked after pretty well. The AWR are there to protect low paid workers, so I doubt it will influence our candidates as they are on the higher end of the pay scale.

What may happen is that we will see a rise in more contact or freelance professionals wanting to reap the benefits of permanent employment with the flexibility of freelancing. However, to do this they will need to reduce their rates, as clients will not be keen to pay the current freelance rates as well as additional benefits.

At the moment, there are a number of grey areas yet to be clarified - official guidelines are expected from the current coalition government later this spring. But theres one thing we know for sure: AWR is here to stay, with tough anti-avoidance measures in place - employers rotating contactors before the 12-week qualifying period ends could be brought to tribunal and forced to pay hefty compensation.

As the worlds leading recruitment and HR services organisation, Randstad has invested heavily in comprehensive research surrounding the AWR found in the Shifting Sands report, as well as a multi-million integrated national marketing campaign, advising its clients and candidates about maximising the implications and opportunities of the Regulations.

Shifting Sands features in prime time advertisements on national television, full page colour advertisements in daily newspapers, and online advertisements.

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