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APSCo Briefing of Labour Front Benches Has Not Come A Moment Too Soon

APSCo – Briefing of Labour Front Benches Has Not Come A Moment Too Soon

Ed Miliband’s recent speech on welfare has highlighted the misconceptions that some opposition ministers and MPs – have about the recruitment sector.

“While APSCo already has a good relationship with Government departments, we are currently undertaking a programme of meetings with Labour MPs to highlight the differences between those recruiters who operate within professional sectors and those that recruit within the blue collar arena,” said APSCo Head of External Relations Sam Hurley.  “We have already met with the Shadow Secretary to the Treasury and are meeting the Shadow Small Business Minister next week – meetings that are obviously not coming a moment too soon given the Labour Leader’s apparent misconceptions about our sector.”

In his speech, Mr Miliband talked of the use of agency workers to unfairly avoid giving people the pay and conditions offered to permanent staff which APSCo says clearly demonstrates his lack of knowledge of this area.

“The Agency Workers’ Regulations which were brought in by the last Labour Government are in place to give temporary workers basic working and employment conditions equal to those enjoyed by their permanent or directly engaged counterparts,” says Hurley.  “This isn’t an enormous issue in the professional sector, where most highly skilled professional contractors earn considerably more than a comparable permanent employee.  What Mr Miliband fails to recognise is that the AWR was brought in specifically to protect workers, particularly those more vulnerable workers in the lower paid less skilled sectors. .  Our members work very hard to ensure that they comply with the AWR – often doing much more than the law requires – particularly as often it is clear that their contractors are already paid more than permanent staff.  In recent conversations with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Department suggested  that they believe the vast majority of companies are trying to comply, and in many circumstances will be doing more than is necessary.  This is definitely APSCo’s experience with many of its members, which is why we are very pleased that BIS are undertaking a paperwork review of the AWR at the end of June, to help companies understand better what exactly is required of them.”

Mr Miliband also talked of recruitment agencies hiring just from overseas which APSCo absolutely refutes: “Certainly among our members in the professional sector this is absolutely not the case, despite the fact that we do have severe skill shortages in certain professional sectors and simply don’t have the home grown talent to address them.  A recent report by the Social Market Foundation, for example, has warned that the Government’s aim to divert the economy away from financial services is not sustainable due to the shortage of home-grown graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths. They have calculated that the industry is already 40,000 short of the number of STEM graduates it needs each year.”

Responding to Mr Miliband’s pledge to change the law to stop employment agencies using loopholes to undermine the pay of what are effectively full time employees, Ms Hurley said: “Yet again, this demonstrates a  lack of understanding of professional level recruitment – there may be a few unscrupulous agencies out there at the lower end of the market but within the professional sector, this just isn’t the case.  I am looking forward to our upcoming meetings with Labour MPs so that we can set the record straight on behalf of APSCo members.”


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