In a statement to the House of Commons, the Employment Relations Minister Ed Davey confirmed that the Government would not be reviewing the Agency Worker Regulations that were published last January.
Responding to the announcement REC Chief Executive Kevin Green said:
“This was a first big test of the Government’s stated commitment to lightening the load on business and we are disappointed with the outcome. We made a strong case for a review in our discussions with the Minister. However, re-opening the regulations was always a long shot and would have required support from the Trade Unions. However, ensuring that equal treatment measures are workable is not on the Trade Union’s radar. Our focus now will be on working closely with Government so that the official guidance provides clarity for recruiters and employers”.
“There is some upside. Of the three issues that we raised, the Government has agreed to work with the REC on a robust definition and test for legitimate self-employment. We will also be looking for Government support on other priorities for the industry such as pensions reform, vetting and barring, procurement policy and a review of employment tribunals”.
Looking ahead at the next steps for recruitment and HR professionals, Green concludes:
“Recruiters will work with business to minimise the impact of these regulations. Temporary work is about having instant access to highly-skilled, self-motivated workers who make a real contribution. The regulations must not have an impact on the crucial flexibility that agency work provides.”
Mark Hammerton, partner at law firm Eversheds added:
“This development will be disappointing to many employers and recruitment industry bodies. It is not, however, unexpected. We had anticipated that, at best there would be mere “tweaks” to the AWR 2010, rather than fundamental change. Personally, I think the Government is being over cautious in terms of any changes, eg, to the definition of pay undermining the veracity of the AWR (& the 12 week qualifying period) but one can see why that cautious approach has been adopted.
“The focus of employers and their providers in the resourcing sector moves to ways of working with the AWR in a flexible way, which is right for that particular organisation. The AWR are now confirmed as effective 1 October 2011. We have less than 12 months to prepare (just over a year before the first worker passes the 12 week qualifying period). We have always said that AWR should prove as a catalyst for employers to examine their resourcing/staffing needs and this is becoming ever more pressing.”