In preparation for the Agency Workers Regulations passing into law (which happened this past weekend) ACAS last week advised Employers to ‘get to grips’ with the Regulations so they do not fall foul of its requirements, or they could be fined.
Those businesses that fail to comply with the troublesome new legislation could face:
- A £5,000 fine at an Employment Tribunal (per agency worker). These fines can be given to companies who artificially shorten temporary assignments – or hire, sack, then rehire the same agency workers in the same job – to avoid the worker accruing 12 weeks service, which is when their rights under Agency Workers Regulations would start.
- Higher compensation may need to be paid if a company is taken to an Employment Tribunal by an Agency Worker who has not received ‘equalised’ employment conditions after their 12 weeks service (for more information see our AWR Guide).
Reports at the beginning of September suggested that the Agency Workers Regulations were about to be watered down by the Prime Minister, David Cameron but this was followed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirming that the AWR would go ahead as their previously issued guidelines had described.
There have been repeated calls for the Government to conduct an early review of AWR but the Government are currently remaining silent on this, with the earliest likely review to be in 2013.
We have been debating and analysing these Regulations for some time and there are serious worries amongst many groups about their implementation:
- Regular surveys suggest that the Regulations could put thousands of temporary/agency jobs at risk as Employers seek to limit their liabilities (and cost implications) under the Regulations
- Contractors who work through Umbrella Companies worrying how the Regulations will affect their ability to get work, and whether their Umbrella can remain compliant
- The Agency Workers Regulations are also a particular worry for small Companies, especially those who do not have HR/Admin functions that can handle the paperwork that will need to be kept to ensure they are keeping within the Agency Workers Regulations. Such small companies must be careful and familiarise themselves with the Regulations and understand what they need to do and understand that very soon the cost of employing agency workers will in many cases be practically equal to having permanent staff on board.
If you are an Employer and need professional help with these Regulations (or any other staff/freelance issues) then talk to The HR Kiosk – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses.