Not a temporary concern

Two different reports show that small businesses are woefully under-informed about new agency worker rules set to come into force on October 1.

Research from recruiter Adecco has found that almost two thirds of HR professionals (61 per cent) don’t realise that the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) will begin in just seven months’ time and, according to another study conducted by recruitment and HR services company Randstad, 66 per cent of respondents don’t even know what the regulations are.

So, what are they and why are they important? Well, the Regulations have been designed to give agency workers the same basic working and employment conditions as permanent staff in regard to working hours, overtime, breaks, rest periods and holidays. After 12 weeks, agency workers will be entitled to be treated equally to workers who have been recruited directly to do the same job.

It’s in the interest of businesses to swat up on the fundamentals, as getting it wrong could have major resourcing, financial and legal implications. In the midst of a seemingly never-ending process of consolidation and fighting to keep the wolf from the door, the last thing an SME needs is to be hit by a costly employment tribunal because it failed to provide recruiters with the right information on temps’ working conditions.

Companies shouldn’t be put off from taking on agency workers either. While dealing with agencies can be a headache, with consultants often seeming to be more concerned about chasing their fee than the quality of candidates, the jobs market is at a crunch point. More than two million people are still unemployed and it’s vital that businesses don’t discount temps simply because they don’t fully understand how AWR will affect them.

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