Demand For Temporary Staff To Remain Despite AWR Introduction

Employment Law Expert Comments On Latest Research

27.09.2011

The demand for temporary staff in the UK is unlikely to change despite the upcoming introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), an employment law expert at Irwin Mitchell has suggested.

The AWR comes into force on October 1st and will give temporary workers an entitlement to receive the same pay and basic working conditions as permanent employees after they have spent 12 weeks in an assignment, as well as some limited “first day” rights in respect of access to job vacancies and collective facilities.

New research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) Jobs Outlook report suggests that more than eight out of 10 employers are intending to either maintain or increase the number of temporary staff they may use over the next quarter.

According to Matthew Brain, a Partner and employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, this situation is not as surprising as some may think.

He outlined: “Most people expected that the AWR would act as a disincentive to employers to utilise temporary workers if the main benefits of so doing – flexibility and reduced labour costs – are potentially going to be eroded.

“However, many employers are involved in industries where demand fluctuates, which means that the use of agency workers is both common and necessary. In addition, the current economic climate also means some businesses are reluctant or simply unable to recruit permanent staff.”

Matthew added that while the extent of the usage of agency workers may not change, employers will need to be fully aware of the impact of the AWR.

He explained: “Our experience suggests that employers will continue to use agency workers mainly because they have to but, as the REC report indicates, they will need to be alive to the effects of the 12-week equality rule. Many of our clients are looking at how they can implement recruitment processes to ensure that the effects of the AWR are minimised.

“Rather perversely, the AWR looks as though it could therefore have a detrimental impact on temporary workers, because employers may be less likely to engage them on assignments on a long-term basis, and earlier terminations may become the norm to avoid the effect of the 12-week rule.

“Of course, all employers operating on this basis will need to have one eye on the “anti-avoidance” provisions of the AWR when planning agency worker recruitment programmes.

“The AWR is a complex area of law, but Irwin Mitchell is fortunate that our Head of Employment Law, Tom Flanagan, co-authored the BIS Guidance on the AWR. Our team has unparalleled experience of the issues that arise under the AWR for agencies and businesses alike, and we have prepared an AWR “Toolkit” of services that is available to our clients to assist and compliment their understanding and implementation of the AWR.

“We would urge business and agencies to speak to us about the Toolkit to ensure that they work within the ambit of the AWR and ensure that legal risks are minimised.”