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80% of HR professionals are unaware of the consequences of not complying with the Agency Worker Regulations

Almost two thirds of HR professionals (61%) don't realise that the Agency Worker Regulations will come into force in just 12 months' time and 80% have 'no idea' what the consequences of non-compliance are.

The Agency Worker Regulations have been designed to give agency workers the same basic working and employment conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks on assignment. This will have a major impact on how employers use such workers but research by recruiter Adecco found that many HR professionals are still unprepared and even complacent about the impact that the regulations will have on their organisation.

Out of 100 HR decision-makers questioned, only 19 % said they had a ‘clear’ understanding of the implications of the regulations. Almost half (48%) said they were ‘concerned’ about understanding exceptions to the regulations which is a key area in which they could become non-compliant. Nevertheless, 50% said that they would not be seeking professional guidance on implementing the regulations.

Steven Kirkpatrick, managing director of Adecco General Staffing, said: "Now is not the time for complacency. There are over 1.3 million agency workers out on assignment every day so it’s vital that HR professionals take steps to understand the nuances of the Agency Worker Regulations sooner rather than later. This is a significant piece of legislation and getting it wrong could have major resourcing, financial and legal implications. For example, failure to provide recruiters with the right information on temps’ working and employment conditions could result in a costly employment tribunal."

Adecco’s research also found that the regulations are likely to have a major impact on the way in which businesses use agency workers. Where temps make up 10% or more of the workforce, 52% of those businesses said their organisation wouldn’t be able to survive without temporary workers. Almost a third (29%) of HR professionals overall said that they would recruit fewer temps as a direct result and 67% agreed that the regulations will mean businesses employing workers for fewer than 12 weeks.

Kirkpatrick added: "The jobs market is at a crunch point. With over two million people still unemployed it’s vital that businesses don’t discount temporary workers simply because they don’t fully understand how AWR will affect them. By speaking to recruitment professionals now, HR teams will be in a much stronger position to understand the full impact of the regulations when it hits in twelve months time so it’s vital that they start preparing for the changes as soon as possible."

The research also found that the biggest perceived impact of the regulations on the HR community is an increase in time spent on administration with 44% of HR professionals questioned saying this would have more impact than additional costs, increased need for legal advice and a greater need to recruit permanent staff.

Kirkpatrick added: "It’s vital that HR professionals see the regulations as more than just an administrative burden and instead recognise the risks of non-compliance. With just one year to go until implementation now is the time to take action."