Over 70 delegates from a wide range of businesses attended an Agency Workers Regulations seminar on Thursday 3rd March, hosted by Driver Hire, the CBI and Cobbetts LLP.
Welcoming them, Driver Hire chief executive Chris Chidley, explained that the purpose of the seminar was to raise awareness of the Regulations and debunk the misinformation surrounding them. With recruitment trade press reports suggesting that over a third of employers are unfamiliar with their content and likely impact, the two half-day seminars were well timed.
Guest speakers were Ben Digby, a senior policy advisor at the CBI and Ron Drake, a senior employment solicitor at Cobbetts and part-time employment tribunal judge. Ron explained that the purpose of the Regulations was to align the basic employment conditions for temporary workers with those of the people they work alongside. These include: pay and holiday entitlement, access to staff facilities and the opportunity to apply for a full-time job with the hirer.
“The new Regulations, which come into force on 1st October 2011, do not mean that temporary workers will have the same employment rights as their directly employed colleagues,” said Ron. “Agency workers only qualify for the new rights once they have completed a 12-week qualifying period where they are doing the same job with the same customer.”
Both Ron and Chris Chidley were keen to emphasise that the Regulations won’t change the convenience and flexibility of using temps. What they will do is remove cowboy agencies who take advantage of agency workers.
“Before the Regulations are implemented, both agencies and customers will have to ensure that they understand how to apply them. There are penalties if it is proved that you have failed to meet the rights of your temporary workers,” says Chris. “One key requirement when the Regulations are implemented in October is the need for both customers and agencies to track and monitor the status of all their agency workers and apply them to the Regulations. Driver Hire’s highly sophisticated IT systems mean that we are ideally placed to do this.”