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More on the Agency Workers Directive

More on the Agency Workers Directive

Adrian Marlowe

Adrian Marlowe

1.     Government proposes
to gold plate Agency Worker Directive

2.     ARC calls for delay in
considering the Agency Workers Directive

3.     ARC
membership


1.     Government proposes to gold plate
Agency Worker Directive

At Lawspeed’s seminar on 24th June Adrian Marlowe,
Managing Director, explained that Government plans to implement the Agency
Workers Directive go far beyond the intention of the EU Parliament. He said: “In
common with most others, we had thought that the Directive requires the
government to implement the legislation in the way proposed. However, closer
inspection shows the government has disregarded the definitions and principles
in the Directive that limit the scope of equal treatment.

“The impression that the government is only acting
in accordance with the Directive is a myth. The Directive does not apply to
agency workers on assignment with the vast majority of average hirers, yet the
government would have us believe that it does, in order to justify a more
burdensome UK implementation that will apply to all assignments. Everyone seems
to have fallen for this hook, line and sinker.”

The consultation on the Directive comes after a
series of recent consultations and at a time when the industry’s attention has
been diverted by the economic crisis. Adrian Marlowe said: “Most agencies are
working hard to keep sales up. They are fed up with the number of consultations
and new laws since 2001 and many in the industry feel that their interests have
not been properly represented or protected. It came as a surprise to everyone
attending the seminar that the government is attempting to gold plate the
Directive, not only making the entire exercise far more complicated than
necessary, but also including areas and concepts that the EU itself had
rejected.”

He went on to say “What is particular worrying is
that no one appears to have been aware that the government was going beyond the
minimum requirements of the Directive. Even the deal between the CBI and TUC in
May 2008 came as a surprise, with no prior consultation of the industry or some
key players within it.”

It was clear that delegates at the seminar were
unaware of the disparity between the government’s proposals and the Directive. A
recruitment consultant who attended both the REC summit and the government’s own
consultation event said “I had not heard this anywhere before and this was not
mentioned at either event. I was led to believe that the government was
following the Directive. I now know they are taking it far further and am left
wondering why this was not disclosed by anyone. Surely we all needed to know
this crucial point?”

The recruiters membership body, the Association of
Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) is taking the agenda forwards. To join the drive
to protect the industry and to be kept informed call 01273 236236.

2.     Call for delay in considering the
Agency Workers Directive

The government has set a tight schedule for
implementation of its proposals having promised to introduce the new laws by the
end of the current Parliamentary session, around November 2009.

Adrian Marlowe said “Given the principles involved
which could well result in erosion of the differences between an agency worker
and a regular employee, and the cost, currently estimated by the government to
be £1.9bn each year, which is probably an underestimate, it is simply crazy to
rush this through. I stand by my previous statement that this could be the
single most damaging piece of legislation ever to affect the recruitment
industry, and it is essential that enough time is allowed for this to be
properly considered.

ARC maintains that introduction this year will not
allow sufficient time for both the points of principle and the draft legislation
to be considered. Adrian Marlowe went on to say “It is no use just calling for
delay in implementation until 2011. Although this helps, what is far more
important is the form of the law not the time when it is actually
implemented.”

Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative Shadow Minister for
BIS (formerly BERR), speaking at Lawspeed’s recent seminar criticised the way
the Directive is being implemented and echoed ARC’s concern that the government
is rushing through this piece of legislation unnecessarily. He said “the
Directive will seriously undermine the flexibility of our labour market. The
cost of the Directive will be immense”.

Kieran Rossiter, CFO of international recruitment
firm Morgan McKinley Group, a keynote speaker at the seminar called for the
industry to support the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC), in its
campaign to limit the effect of the legislation. He said “I am now calling on
the UK Government to reconsider how they would implement the AWD and I would
support a two tiered approach where the minority of vulnerable workers will have
the protection of equal rights after 12 weeks in a temporary assignment but that
for the majority of other agency workers equal rights would only be protected
after a substantially longer period”. This reflects ARC’s proposal for higher
paid workers to be subject to a longer derogation period of a year.

3.    ARC membership

ARC’s numbers are increasing with new applications
received nearly every week since it was formed in March. Latest to join is Omega
Resource Group, an agency with turnover of £28m employing over one hundred
regular staff working in nine UK business centres.

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