No happy new year for agency workers

16 January 2012
It has been more than 100 days since the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) came into force, but the update on the impact of the legislation is not positive for companies or employees. A survey carried out by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) found almost a third of businesses are terminating temp contracts before the 12-week qualifying period ends. “If these concerns are even close to being accurate, we could see tens of thousands of temporary workers jettisoned onto the labour market in January,” said Ann Swain, APSCo chief executive. And those are the companies that understand the rules.

Feedback from members of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) revealed some still have limited awareness and understanding of what the regulations mean, and – in particular - are more interested in the commercial rather than legal implications. The REC also says there is a perception that AWR now makes temps a less attractive business proposition.

The latest Report on Jobs published by the organisation also found that use of temps had fallen for the first time in two years, described as “a clear indication that businesses are too nervous to even make short-term commitments” because of the uncertain economic conditions. A reason could also be, as we reported at the end of 2011, tax and inflation had already increased temporary labour rates by more than 13 per cent. But, warns the REC, it does not mean there are plenty of expert candidates available, with data from sectors such as construction, engineering and IT, reporting many attempts to fill vacancies are unsuccessful.
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