As anyone who has followed the progress of AWR over the last 18 months will know, the first 12 week qualifying period for agency workers ended on Christmas Eve and all reports suggest that this AWR milestone passed with the minimum of fuss. This a testament to the hard work that the staffing industry put in during the run up to both the introduction of AWR and the first qualifying period deadline.
It’s largely still business as usual for the staffing industry, however although the date passed without our industry collapsing, communication is still key and there are still issues to be resolved. This prompted Lewina Farrell, REC Solicitor and Head of Professional Services to comment:
“As predicted, the world did not suddenly come to an end on December 24th. We will monitor the situation closely over the next few weeks and continue to ensure that recruiters are properly briefed in terms of handling any queries or claims from workers.
“Relatively few calls came into the emergency legal help-line over the Christmas period which is a good sign. However, the feedback from members confirms that some clients remain reluctant to share relevant information for equal treatment purposes with their recruitment partners. An immediate priority is to continue reinforcing the message that the AWR is an issue for both agencies and clients.
“Clients who do not provide the relevant information to their agencies will be held liable by the employment tribunal for any breaches of the AWR which result from their unwillingness to co-operate. Therefore it is in everyone’s interests to develop effective communication channels and imperative that clients pass the appropriate information to their recruitment partners in a timely fashion”.
One of the most interesting post-24th December debates that will continue to run into the New Year is what happens when the hirer (end-client) refuses to uplift the charge rate for Agency PAYE workers when the worker is due an uplift in pay due to AWR. Essentially, the hirer is asking the agency to absorb the cost of the parity rate and take a hit to their margin.
We believe this is the result of poor communication within the supply chain for temporary workers and a lack of understanding on the end-clients behalf. However, what it comes down to is a commercial decision by the agency. Do you want/need the businesses and can you afford to take the hit? Are you comfortable pulling the worker off site and refusing to supply therefore damaging the relationship with the client? It’s a rock and hard place situation for the agency and if you are a recruiter in this position then you should consider putting workers through a Swedish Derogation model or engaging with a supplier who offers one.