With the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), due to hit the UK in October 2011, only seven per cent of UK employers have conducted an assessment of how they will be impacted by the one of the most complicated legislative workplace changes to hit the UK, says a recent report by Randstad.

Over a third of organisations (37 per cent) surveyed in Randstad’s ‘Shifting Sands’ report admit that they are unfamiliar with the Regulations.

The AWR will come into force on 1 October 2011 and will ensure that agency workers receive the right to the same basic working and employment conditions as those in the equivalent permanent job recruited directly by their host organization. Some rights will apply from day one, such as the same access to facilities and job vacancies. Other rights, such as pay and some benefits, will apply after the agency worker has been in the same job for 12 weeks.

Agency workers make up about four per cent of the UK workforce, the highest proportion in Europe, and Randstad estimates that at least half of them will be affected by the AWR.

The impact of the AWR will vary across industries, according to their use of temporary workers, with sectors such as construction, education and healthcare likely to face some of the greatest challenges.

Brian Wilkinson, head of Randstad UK, says: “With the implementation of the AWR just a few months away, it is a concern that such a high proportion of organisations are so unprepared. We urge all users of agency workers to conduct a thorough assessment of their human capital resources and the impact of the Regulations. Doing this properly will enable organisations to optimise the structure and efficiency of their workforces.”

Wilkinson adds: “Whilst Randstad recognises the teething challenges that the AWR poses users of agency workers, those that supply them and the workers themselves, we support the Regulations in their ambition to professionalise the use of agency workers and, in particular, give greater recognition to those that are paid on an hourly basis and often working unsocial hours.

“The equalisation of basic working and employment conditions for agency workers will encourage more people that don’t want permanent work to enter the labour market. That is good for them and it’s good for UK employers.”