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Andrew Brindley of Leeds based AJ Recruitment has deemed the new agency worker directive (AWD), which will allow temporary workers to claim full time benefits after just twelve weeks in post from October 2011, inflexible and unworkable.

As a business working regularly with temporary employees and part time placements, Andrew explains why the directive will increase costs, demand robust systems and processes are implemented for monitoring purposes and ultimately deter companies from using agency staff at all.

“Due to the nature of our business we work with agency staff week in and week out finding them suitable placements which suit their requirements and that of the business. We have a number of temporary employees on our books who we and our clients rely on to administer care to the extensive number of service users we provide support for.”

In principle and on paper the directive seems to work well, supporting the rights of individuals by offering the same benefits as permanent workers, but putting this directive into practice is going to be difficult and in some instances virtually impossible.

Organisations which are responsible for the supply of temporary workers will need to spend an ever increasing amount of time ensuring that the necessary criteria are met, they will need to implement robust systems for monitoring and spend time facilitating appraisals and other performance related activities that ordinarily may not be required – even if this person only works for one hour a week.

“The whole point of agency workers is to provide a business with a flexible option. This isn’t to say that payments shouldn’t be in line with those of other workers, that isn’t what this is about but how are we going to determine what does and does not apply to those who are employed on a temporary basis? Also what about those who hold down several temporary positions, are they now entitled to full benefits in association to all businesses they work with despite the fact they may only work for a three month period at any given time or for just two or three hours a week? 

There is also the concern over those who have flexible positions because it suits them and their lifestyle. What about those individuals who use temporary work to get a real feel for a sector and a position they would like to pursue as a long term career? How are they going to feel with added bureaucracy and paper work to fill in? It makes a farce of the temporary worker schemes that we have in place and means that significantly higher levels of risk will be associated with the placement of part time positions.

During difficult times, which are marred by announcements of unemployment figures rising, you would think that the government would be putting supportive measures in place for employers, to ensure that we are able to create and offer as many positions as possible to those who are available and able to work.

It would seem that yet again the directive works against the employer, which in turn means there will be fewer jobs on offer due to the changes which are being implemented. Employing temporary and agency workers was once an obvious choice for businesses who didn’t have the need for a full time role, but I can’t see that this is likely to continue.

The benefits to employing a temporary person are now negotiable. This directive is both short sighted and one sided. One argument in favour of the legislation is to bring the UK in line with Europe but why would we want to do that?

It is well documented that some European countries have an incredibly inflexible working culture and as a result very high rates of unemployment, so why then would we wish to follow this pattern? Greater thought has to go in to the implementation of the directive and support needs to be offered to businesses and those responsible for the supply of agency staff who will face significant change as a result.

It cannot be expected that employers or suppliers of temporary workers will immediately understand the new policies and procedures required and rather than handing out proposed fines of up to &pound5,000 a better way of working may be to communicate effectively to all employers, giving clear guidance and recommendations in relation to the use of agency workers and what this directive actually means in real terms. 


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