In parliament last week, Stewart Jackson, the Conservative MP for Peterborough, asked the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable), “What steps is he taking to reduce the cost of implementation of the EU Agency Workers Directive; and if he will make a statement?”
Ed Davey, the Minister for Employment Relations, responded that the Secretary of State had, on the 23rd November, announced a commitment to review the paperwork obligations of AWR within 18 months with the aim of identifying opportunities to simplify them. The Government will also be monitoring the impact of AWR on the UK economy and will be contributing to the EU Commission’s review of the directive in December 2013.
This response was mirrored in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week and the interesting point to pick up on is that the big commitment to review relates to AWR paperwork. The reason for this is the paperwork aspects of AWR were never part of the agreement between the TUC and CBI when AWR was first discussed, therefore, there is unlikely to be any legal challenges should there be any changes.
This could be interpreted in a number of ways.
Firstly, it is simply a review of the paperwork associated with AWR and its application and therefore some of the administrative burden of AWR could be reduced as a result. Is this really the major point of conflict for AWR though?
The other side to this is that, as AWR is a piece of EU level legislation, there is very little the Government can do to alter or indeed remove it. So is this really just pandering to the anti-AWR brigade and being seen to do something without over committing? Tinkering around the edges perhaps?
Alternatively it could also be ‘backdoor’ way of making some serious changes to the AWR without incurring the wrath of the EU, TUC or the CBI.
For now, we will have to wait 18 months for the answer but in the meantime tell us what you think.