A leading industrial recruiter is urging businesses that use agency staff to ensure they are well prepared for new legislation giving temporary workers the same rights as permanent employees including pay.
Mark Roberts, operations director of gap personnel, fears that many companies and recruitment agencies could fall foul of new regulations which he says are ambiguous and contain loopholes that could be open to legal challenges through the courts.
The new regulations involve the biggest ever shake-up of the temporary recruitment industry and Mark says that whilst gap personnel is well prepared for the change, he believes it will bring initial turmoil to the industry.
“We have been preparing for this change for a long time now and have a strategy in place which considers how the changes affect all of our temporary workers and our client companies,” said Mark, a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Industrial Executive Committee.
“However, the guidelines that have been issued are unclear in parts and there is lots of confusion in the industry. We fear that some of the guidance could be open to interpretation and could end up as test cases through the courts causing further disruption to the economy, which is still fragile as it comes out of recession.”
The Agency Workers Regulations become law from October 1. They give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer after completion of a 12-week qualifying period in a job.
The regulations implement the EU Agency Workers Directive, agreed in 2008 following endorsement between the TUC and the CBI.
The new regulations aim to equalise pay; duration of working time; length of night work; rest periods and rest breaks and annual leave. However they will not change the status of agency workers so they will not be entitled to rights that only apply to employees, such as redundancy pay.
There are fears that some companies may try to dodge the new legislation by ending temporary workers contracts at 11 weeks, stopping the clock at six weeks then re-hiring them. This is because a break of six weeks before the same worker is hired again ensures they do not qualify for equal treatment, although lawyers are warning that companies who do this could still fall foul of the law.
It is also feared that traditional manufacturing industries such as food, where temporary recruitment is widespread, could be hardest hit.
gap personnel has 30 branches across the country with further expansion during 2011 as new branches open.
The company has a group turnover of £60m and, during the past year, saw its sales margin increase 48 per cent, notching up 800 new contract wins.
gap personnel has also been named one of the ‘Best Companies To Work For,’ for the fourth consecutive year.
It was founded by Gary Dewhurst in 1997 with a determination to deliver an outstanding recruitment service.
“Our commitment to innovation, best practice, long term client retention and, most of all, our people, has seen the company expand into a nationally-acclaimed industrial recruitment specialist,” he said.
- supplies workers to more than 1,500 businesses annually
- places and payrolls up to 4,000 temporary workers per week
- runs 12 fully independent on-site contracts
- internal staff retention figures are amongst the best in the country
- As well as providing UK-wide coverage, the company has a strong regional presence including Wales, the north west, Yorkshire, the Midlands, the south west and the M5 corridor