AWD deadline signals D-day for flexible jobs, says REC
Today (Friday 11th December) is the latest milestone in the ongoing saga of the Agency Workers Directive with the close of the Government’s consultation on how equal treatment measures for temporary workers can best be implemented in the UK.
The REC has submitted its official response to the draft regulations based on the ongoing feedback from agencies operating across all sectors of the UK economy. Key issues for recruiters have already been taken forward through regular discussions with Government officials as well as through recent meetings with the Minister for Business Innovation and Skills, Pat McFadden and Employment Relations Minister, Lord Young.
Commenting on this latest stage in what has been an eight year REC campaign in Brussels and Whitehall, Tom Hadley, Director of External Relations, says:
“This is the final countdown in terms of ensuring that the EU Directive is workable in the UK. In yesterday’s Pre Budget Report, the Chancellor explicitly referred to the importance of the UK’s flexible labour market. The way that the AWD is implemented will be an acid test of the Government’s commitment to protecting the viability of flexible working options.
“The voice of the industry has been at the forefront of the AWD debate and there is no doubt that the Government now recognises the complexities involved. We are countering heavy Trade Union pressure to ensure we get a positive outcome”.
Key areas covered in the REC response to Government include:
- Qualifying period and ad hoc assignments: REC is pressing for ad hoc assignments to be more sensibly dealt with by the regulations. Under the current proposals an agency driver, for example, who does a series of shifts occasionally returning to the same firm, could have a number of forms of equal treatment after service reaches 12 weeks at a number of hirers. This would be confusing for the worker and also administratively impossible to deal with.
- Temp to perm fees: REC is opposed to including the word 'reasonable' within the text of the Conduct Regulations on temp to perm fees. This will simply give hirers a basis from which to avoid paying the fee they have signed up to. REC does not believe that the current arrangements prevent temporary workers from moving into permanent work and so there is no need to amend the current regulations.
- Exclusion of the self employed: REC is working on a clearer wording in the regulations on this exclusion, but we are in line with Government thinking on this matter.
- Holiday pay: the decision to reflect the holiday pay entitlement of the hirer rather than use the statutory minimum will add significant costs to hirers. We will continue to emphasise this, and the point is well recognised by BIS, however they feel that this is the only correct interpretation of the Directive.
- Definition of pay: although BIS believe they need to go beyond basic pay, we feel they have limited the scope for temps to receive bonuses sufficiently. We will fight hard to keep to the current proposal (with some small changes) as the Unions are seeking for the proposed definition to be significantly extended.
- Liability: REC will continue to push for a clear position on hirers not indemnifying any losses due to failure to establish equal treatment against the agency.
The final version of the regulations are due to go before Parliament in the New Year. The Government is committed to developing detailed guidance documents which the industry will be invited to feed into.