November 24, 2009 by Local Legal
In what appears to be a victory for temporary staff employed throughout the region, the plans outlined in the recent Queens Speech could actually prove detrimental to the thousands of agency workers currently employed in Yorkshire.
The speech included a pledge to provide agency workers with the same rights as a businesss permanent employees doing the same kind of work in the same place, ensuring more standardised rate of pay, holiday entitlement, breaks, rest periods and allocation of some bonuses.
Steve Willey, HR & Employment Law Consultant at Last Cawthra Feather comments: The most obvious effect of the changes will be to increase the cost of using an agency worker. It therefore seems likely that, although individual agency staff will gain, the bigger picture may be that local businesses have no choice but to reduce their reliance on agency staff because the cost advantages of using them are so dramatically reduced, which is, in turn, very bad news for agencies.
As the largest user of agency staff in the EU, estimates suggest that over one million people work in the temporary labour market in the UK. The CBI has estimated that up to a quarter of those posts could disappear if the differences between agency staff and employees were to be abolished.
Steve continues: Our Regional economy makes extensive use of agency workers with local councils, NHS trusts, and thousands of private companies relying on temporary workers to fill gaps in staffing. We have hundreds of small agencies in the region and, whichever side of the argument you are on, it is undeniable that a reduction in the availability and use of agency staff will have a significant impact.
With a general consensus that the Government will be forced to introduce the legislation because it originates from an EU Directive, it is essential that both companies and agencies assess the full extent the changes will have on their business and what can be done to manage the changes in the most effective way possible.
It may well be that local businesses will try and evade the regulations. As the main rights will only apply after an agency worker has been in an assignment for 12 weeks, an attempt will be made to move workers around so they never accrue 12 weeks within one role, adds Steve.
However, with efficiency of agency staff driven by the level of knowledge they have of a role, and bringing new staff in every few weeks often proving disruptive and costly, end users may find avoidance of the regulations a more expensive alternative in the long run. This approach will also expose the agency and business to the risk of a claim from a temporary worker who thinks they are not experiencing equality.
To find out more about the implications of proposals highlighted in the Queens Speech have on your business, contact Last Cawthra Feather on 01274 848800 or visit www.lcf.co.uk.