It’s only around 7 weeks ago that the AWR came into effect and already there is a mounting call for its removal or, at the very least, a review of its impact. However, whether or not anything can be done is a different question altogether.
In the last week, the CBI is the latest heavyweight to add its voice to the calls to review AWR and its impact. After surveying 460 of its member firms, it found that only one in six were planning to increase the recruitment of temporary workers, while at the same time one in five expected to make cuts to its temporary workforce.
Deputy Director General Neil Bentley said the directive was setting alarm bells ringing, particularly given the government’s own need for economic expansion and job creation. “We want a review next year to make sure it does not cause any more damage,” he said. “It is in everyone’s interest to help as many people as possible to get into the labour market
This is coming at a time when the UK’s flexible workforce should be valued more than ever as the government pushes the private sector to create economic growth.
The CBI commented that the results of its study were worrying adding that in the current economic climate hiring of temps should be increasing, while permanent recruitment would be muted.
The results of the CBI mirror that of another recently published by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC).
Again ARC surveyed its members and found that over half of respondents believe that their clients are intending to decrease the size of their temporary workforce over the next 12 months. The report goes on to site AWR as the main reason and blames increasing costs and administrative burden on the new legislation.
Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of the ARC has said: “Our survey has shown that rather than protecting agency workers, the regulations are actually undermining the job market for them, yet increasing the administrative workload. At a time when unemployment has reached its highest level in decades, the government should be doing everything in its power to safeguard jobs for agency workers and support the businesses that hire them. These regulations are doing more harm than good.
“This isn’t about not wanting agency workers to have more equal rights; it is about retaining flexibility. We need a system that supports agency workers and businesses alike, and these regulations are clearly not benefitting either. We believe it is possible for the government to do more to protect agency workers’ jobs, this is why we are calling for the Government to commit to an early review of the AWR.”
Now some of this could simply be down to the economic conditions and a lack of demand and the survey talks about intentions only but it’s not hard to make the link with AWR and its impact. Particularly when the report goes on to say that more than 50 per cent believe that clients intend to end assignments before the 12 week mark, in order to avoid AWR rights applying.
It’s easy to put a spin on statistics but it’s hard to ignore a growing groundswell of opinion that AWR needs a review as soon as possible. Having the AWR removed remains unlikely as it is an EU level piece of legislation, but some things could be changed and changed for the better. The 12 week qualifying period for example as the EU directive states this can be anything up to 6 months. However this also comes with difficulties as it was part of the original agreement made between the Labour government of the time and the TUC that the UK would adopt a 12 week qualifying period when it came into effect.
So bearing in mind that the AWR is probably here to stay, what changes would you make to it that would, in your eyes, make it a better piece of legislation?
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