The countdown to the implementation of the agency workers regulations (it’s no longer a directive) is well and truly under way. You may recall that the UK adopts the regulations in October 2011 but before then we await the coalition government to publish the guidelines that will support the regulations and we hope clarify many of the current issues.
As drafted the regulations catch personal service company workers but who are the same workers going to claim against, themselves? In the same vein would the personal service company go after an end client for equal pay and risk self employment status as a result? Bonkers!
There is also the thorny subject of what constitutes pay for comparison purposes. Some providers and agencies use expenses to top up pay to national minimum wage levels – a further minimum wage consultation has also been underway, will awr take that into account?
So for me the main issue is that government and many related stakeholders always fails to grasp is a fuller understanding of the flexible workforce in the UK economy. By not doing so we end up with some of the most difficult and woolly practices that help no one other than those seeking to make a quick buck. I have also heard of unions forcing contract workers out of full employment structures onto agency payrolls to ensure “rights” when in reality, they are reducing rights through a lack of understanding.
With noise levels increasing, lawyers selling advice and everyone started to think more about this we need to push government to produce practical and common sense guidance that protects workers in vulnerable situations and equally acknowledges the different form of “agency work”. Parasol through our membership of fcsa will be pushing hard on BIS to deliver guidance that reflects the reality rather than a remote European view. The flexible workforce is a powerful part of the recovery process for the UK and it would be madness to jeopardise that now.
Visit http://www.understandingawr.co.uk/ for more debate and articles.