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Agency Workers Regulations comment

Agency Workers Regulations comment

Neil Owen, Director of Robert Half's London operations said:

“Despite continued regulatory change, organisations across the UK are increasingly reliant on agency workers to carry out business critical processes. Areas such as finance, operations management and IT have experienced a steady increase in hiring levels over the past 12 months for temporary and interim staff. Our research shows that in London alone, 44% of finance and accounting departments have hired between 1-15 temporary staff, with 49% of companies planning to use the same number over the next 12 months.

“With the challenging business environment amidst continued global economic uncertainty, some hiring managers are taking advantage of the knowledge and skills that temporary staff can bring to a company’s bottom line. By continuing to capitalise on the readily available and highly trained temporary market, businesses can adjust more easily and quickly to workload variations, and bring in specialists with the required experiences to run particular programmes.”


Alex Bearman, Partner in the Employment practice at Russell-Cooke LLP said, “The EU Directive that necessitated implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations was published in late 2008.  In fact, the first government consultation period closed as long ago as 31 July 2009.  Given this long lead in period, many employers who may or will be affected by these Regulations will have already taken steps to prepare.

After a 12 week qualifying period, agency workers – sometimes referred to as “temps” – will have the same rights as comparable permanent staff to certain pay (including basic salary, overtime pay, holiday pay and bonus related pay that is directly attributable to individual performance) and other “basic working and employment conditions”. 

Further, from day one of their assignment, agency workers will have certain rights in relation to “collective facilities and amenities” (such as use of a staff canteen and child-care facilities) unless the hirer can objectively justify withholding access, and to information about vacant posts within the hirer’s business.  

Employers that use temporary workers should pay particular attention to the anti-avoidance provisions in the Regulations. These provisions are intended to address a situation where a pattern of assignments is designed to deliberately deprive an agency worker of their entitlements. 

Employers that use agency workers and who have not already prepared for the new Regulations should prepare now.  Otherwise, they will risk being one of the first employers to be taken to an employment tribunal by agency workers who are looking to enforce their new found rights.  Employment agencies, as the providers of agency workers, should also be fully aware of the Regulations and their impact even though hirers are the focus of the Regulations.

Many employers might well do nothing for the next 12 weeks, but that will be too late, not least because some of the new rights apply from day one of an agency worker’s assignment.”


Agency Workers Regulations in Financial Services

The EU’s long-coming directive on Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) finally arrives this week, affecting both temporary workers and those who employ them.

Much has been debated over the past few months, not over the regulations’ inherent benefits to temps, but on the impact on employers and their willingness to continue hiring temporary workers who could cost them significantly more.

BRUIN Financial, the recruitment consultancy working exclusively in financial services, believes the AWR will have a less negative impact in financial services than it might in other sectors. City employers often pay temporary back and middle office staff slightly more than their permanent counterparts, so any wage increases to accommodate holiday allowances is not expected to result in a significant fall in the use of temporary workers.

BRUIN Financial CFO Colin Webster says, “We sympathise with our clients in terms of the bureaucracy and new admin tasks involved, especially when we would all rather be focusing on creating value in the current climate. However, once internal policies are in place and the new rules become commonplace, we expect the appetite for financial services’ firms to use temps to remain high.”

Stories of employers in other sectors running scared and threatening to boycott temps in favour of a range of workaround methods won’t happen to any significant degree in the City. Colin Webster continues, “We do expect to see a small rise in the use of fixed term contracts using non-PAYE contractors, though companies will need to be careful not to fall foul of the anti-avoidance legislation and of the long established IR35 legislation. We don’t expect temp numbers to drop significantly as a result though.”

BRUIN Financial is actively advising its clients on the practical implementation of the AWR. Any interested readers looking for assistance should contact us at or 020 3145 3333.


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