New Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) come into effect in October 2011 and will have far-reaching implications for the supply chain sector.
The legislation states that upon completion of a 12 week qualifying period, an agency worker will be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as a permanent member of staff working in ‘the same’ or ‘broadly similar’ capacity.
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Despite the serious implications of the legislation, a recent survey of employers in the distribution sector revealed that, whilst 90 per cent are aware of the AWR’s implementation date, 40 per cent are unsure as to how it would affect their business.
With statistics such as this, it’s particularly important that those within the transport and supply chain industries begin to prepare for the impending change in the law.
Over 1.3 million agency workers operate within British businesses every day. The supply chain industry uses more temporary staff than most, due to the seasonal variation in supplier demand.
The recruitment of temporary workers is especially popular within the transport sector as it prepares for upswings in demand – at particular times of the year – for example, just before Christmas or the busy bank holiday period.
In order to stay competitive, the use of temporary staff allows businesses to respond quickly to market changes and seasonal requirements. At the moment, it’s hard to predict how demand will pan out over the coming weeks or months. However, flexible working means supply chain businesses can respond to peaks or troughs in trading on a day-to-day basis.
Whilst some critics have said that the AWR might affect the recruitment of agency workers in the short term, realistically, the economy cannot survive without them.
In order to prepare, it’s important that businesses work closely with their temporary labour suppliers. Should there be a breach of legislation, both parties could be liable, so it’s important to carry out research and prepare thoroughly.
The main challenge for businesses will be matching a temporary member of staff with the ‘comparable’ permanent employee. If this is done incorrectly, it could mean that specific rights are granted or not granted mistakenly. Mis-matching roles could end up costing time and money or lead to employment tribunal.
The devil’s in the detail – remember that the 12 week qualifying period refers to calendar weeks. An agency worker working 12 consecutive Saturdays will therefore also be covered by the legislation.
So, what can you do to learn more? Well, Top Gear Recruitment is running a series of free seminars across the North West and Yorkshire throughout 2011. These are aimed at helping organisations that use agency workers to assess the effect of the regulations and understand their obligations. To find out more visit www.topgearrecruitment.co.uk