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Agency Workers Directive published

The REC has responded to the final regulations relating to the UK’s implementation of the European Union Agency Workers Directive (AWD) that have been put in front of Parliament.

The regulations are now available for public viewing on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website. Implementation of the regulations will not take place until after 1 October 2011.

For the past eight years business bodies have been campaigning to make sure that the measures to provide equal treatment for contractors do not cause substantial increases in cost, bureaucracy and uncertainty to the provision of temporary staff.

The REC's Chief Executive, Kevin Green, commented on the implications of these new regulations said that it will be Professional recruiters who will bare the burden of ensuring that these complicated regulations work on the ground and we are delighted that some of the sector's key concerns have been taken into consideration.We particularly welcome the decision to delay implementing the AWD and the agreement not to implement potentially harmful restrictions on the fees that agencies charge when a contractor is employed on a permanent basis.

He went on to say that the REC still believes that the AWD regulations are not sufficiently adapted to our jobs market and could curb job opportunities at a time when temporary working is providing many people with a crucial route into work. The priority now is to make sure that employers and recruiters receive effective guidance to implement the new regulations effectively.

The REC is particularly concerned about the wide definition of pay and the problem of repeated short-term assignments which could result in temps obtaining equal treatment rights with more than one employer after they have completed a 12 week assignment.

Once the regulations are implemented, agency contractors will be receive the same basic working conditions, which will include pay and holiday entitlements, as permanent employees, after they have completed 12 weeks in an assignment. The pay rights will apply to basic hourly rate, overtime and bonuses. However, they will not be entitled to join the company's occupational pension scheme or qualify for sickness pay.

The Regulations also include provisions to make sure contractors do not suffer from firms seeking to deprive them of equal treatment. Agencies and hirers who breach the rules could have to pay the worker up to £5,000 if an Employment Tribunal finds they have acted unfairly.

The demand for temporary and contract staff is currently at the highest level for two years according to the latest labour market data and these new regulations are no doubt likely to cause headaches for a lot of professional recruiters.

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