· 2 min read · News

Agency Workers Directive is delayed until 2011 but employers continue to raise concerns


The implementation of the controversial Agency Workers Directive (AWD) has been delayed until October 2011 as the final regulations for the directive were laid before parliament yesterday.

But concerns have been raised in the HR community over performance-related pay for temporary workers as this could mean employers would have to carry out appraisals or performance reviews on temps in order to come up with the relevant pay band.

Other areas for concern for employers in the new regulations include a wide definition of pay for the purposes of establishing equal treatment and the issue of short-term repeat assignments, which could result in temporary workers acquiring equal treatment rights with several employers after 12 weeks of an assignment.

Yesterday's news is the latest milestone in an eight-year campaign by business bodies to ensure that equal treatment measures for temporary workers do not add substantial cost, bureaucracy and uncertainty to the provision of flexible staff.

But the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is warning guidance for recruiters and employers must be effective and provide absolute clarity on how the directive should be implemented in order to avoid limiting temporary and contract job opportunities.
The new regulations come at a time when the latest labour market data shows demand for temporary and contract staff reaching a two-year high.  

Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the REC, told HR magazine: "We are glad the Government listened to us to an extent, but it is disappointing that the regulations have moved toward the unions' way of thinking. We cannot have a political agenda here; we have to think about the practical implications.

"Over the next few months guidance documents will be issued and we hope to work with employers, the CIPD and the CBI so employers know exactly what they have to do.

"We also hope recruitment agencies and employers can work more closely together for coherence. This means we can pre-empt now what might cause problems later."

The REC's recommendations to Government for the implementation of the AWD rested on the work of the Agency Work Commission, a body set up by the REC to seek the views of employers and bodies such as the CIPD, to ensure that the regulations work for recruitment agencies and hirers of temporary staff alike.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This is good news for Britain's agency workers. The Government has made a significant step towards securing a fair deal for agency staff and stamping out some of the worst abuses.

"While we are disappointed that the protection will not start earlier, union campaigning - both here and across Europe - has secured another advance for people at work today."

The broad aim of the directive is to ensure the principle of equal treatment applies to temporary and agency workers. Subject to the relevant qualifying period, agency workers will enjoy during any assignment the same terms and conditions regarding working time, overtime, breaks and rest periods, night working, holidays and pay, as if they had been recruited directly by a company into the particular job.