30 Jan, 2012

Recruiters working through implementation challenges

The REC has published its latest AWR Monitor which tracks implementation issues and collates monthly data on the agency market. Although the regulations are creating specific challenges for agencies and their clients in some sectors, the demand for flexible staffing remains strong overall.

Some of the key points from this month’s AWR Monitor are:

There was a slight decrease in temp billings according to January’s REC/KPMG Report on Jobs. However, this is most likely linked to the economy than to any impact of the AWR.
Future hiring intentions tracked through the JobsOutlook survey is encouraging. Over the next 12 months,  87 per cent of employers are looking to grow or maintain temporary staff levels, with only 13 per cent planning a decrease in usage.
Full equal treatment measures kicked in over the Christmas period. This did not result in any significant flurry of queries and requests for information from workers.
Recruiters have flagged concerns over the fact that some clients remain reluctant to share relevant information The REC is continuing to take forward the message that the AWR is an issue for both agencies and clients.
Queries to the REC Legal Helpline have focused on holiday pay, calculating basic pay as an hourly rate and putting agency workers back on a contract for services from Regulation 10 contracts. Other common queries are around the status of limited company contractors, calculating the 12 weeks qualifying period and defining a ‘substantially different role’.
Actively promoting the ongoing benefits of flexible staffing to employers is a priority. As part of this, the first meeting of the REC’s Flexible Work Commission will take place next week.

Reviewing the latest data and feedback from members, Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services says:   “It is now over 100 days since the AWR came into force.
“Despite the slight dip in the number of placements highlighted in last month’s Report on Jobs, overall demand remains strong. Temporary and contract staff will continue to provide employers with a key means of bringing in the right skills at the right time.

“The feedback from recruiters is mixed and varies from sector to sector. There is no doubt that the regulations have created significant cost and resourcing implications for the industry but the priority has been to reassure client organisations over the ongoing viability and benefits of using agency staff. Providing ongoing support to members and continuing to monitor the impact will be key priorities for the REC in 2012”.

Examples of some of the anecdotal feedback from REC members include:

“We have now dealt with a number of temps under AWR and whilst time consuming because each company has different terms and conditions it is getting more straightforward with each one we do”.
“We did our best to educate the clients before it came in and most clients have generally been co-operative.”
“OK so far, there is more paperwork to deal with, but we have put systems in place to ease the burden on Account Managers.”
“One client is not happy about paying a very well paid temp for the extra holiday they will be entitled to under AWR, he considers the temp to be overpaid for what they do.”
“Some employers are still under the impression that the regulations are nothing to do with them and this is just up to the agency to sort things out’.
“One challenge has been the fact that employers have very different working patterns. Ensuring that the way AWR is implemented reflects these differences has been a big task.”
“The AWR has shaken the ‘issues tree’ for clients and has lead to many clients reviewing a number of broad areas linked to the supply of temporary and contract staff.”

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