Officials refuse to rethink agency worker rules

No further changes will be made to the Agency Workers Regulations between now and when they come into force on October 1st, officials have told temporary staff recruiters, seemingly to their disappointment.

Presented with press reports claiming they would be watered down at the last-minute to please the business community, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said the rules would take effect as they currently stand.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation was the first agency staffing body to receive the ‘no change’ verdict, which was firmed up yesterday to IT agencies at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies.

Addressing APSCo member firms, Peter Stephens, BIS director of labour markets, strategy and operations, said he had received “no new instructions” from ministers to subject the AWR to a final review.

His clarification should put a stop to media reports that No 10 was seeking legal advice on the AWR to lawfully dilute the impact of the regulations on end-users, following concern over implementation costs.

Recruiters have pushed for their own amendments too, partly to smooth the implementation of what the REC called “the biggest regulatory challenge ever to face our industry.”

Chief executive Kevin Green acknowledged a change of tack by the government was always going to be a “long shot” at this “late stage”, yet the industry’s appeals appear not to have been totally in vain.

According to the confederation, momentum is building for the government to commit to review the AWR one year on from its passing into UK law. The CBI, the employers’ organisation, is right to support the call, the REC said.

Meanwhile, the government will also undertake a review of more than 200 pieces of employment law in the coming months, said APSCo, with the central focus to be on how reform could boost job creation.

Tuesday 20th September 2011