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Agency Workers Regulations (Review)

Volume 587: debated on Monday 3 November 2014

As part of the red tape challenge, Government committed to examining the paperwork obligations of the agency workers regulations (AWR). The purpose of the review was to ensure that the practical arrangements for employers were as simple as possible. While the review was completed late last year, Government delayed an announcement of findings until after the publication of the European Commission’s review of the implementation of the agency workers directive. This was published on 21 March this year.

The review focused on the record-keeping requirements of the AWR. The AWR are not prescriptive as to what records should be kept by either a recruitment business or a hiring business––it is up to the businesses themselves to determine their own approach. However, in the course of the review it was clear that businesses needed to record information about agency workers in order to demonstrate compliance with the regulations.

Views were collected from temporary work agencies, business, and trade and employee representative organisations.

The review found that, while temporary work agencies reportedly invested much time and resource in updating their processes and systems to ensure they were compliant when the AWR were brought in, there was consensus that the AWR work relatively well.

The most significant obstacle experienced by temporary work agencies was obtaining information from hiring businesses about employment terms and conditions of comparable workers who are hired directly by the hirers. Without this information agencies found it difficult to ensure temporary agency workers receive the same basic working and employment conditions after completing the 12-week qualifying period.

But temporary work agencies were clear that they did not want the main guidance on the regulations to be changed. Amending the guidance would risk being perceived as changing the AWR, and thus create confusion among temporary work agencies and hiring businesses.

They did, however, suggest that additional guidance should be issued on the regulations specifically targeted at hirers to explain what information agencies would require from them and why. This will reduce the administrative burden on temporary work agencies which is brought about by having to make repeated requests to hirers.

Officials will now work with interested parties to simplify the existing guidance into three distinct sections––one for workers, one for temporary work agencies and additional guidance specifically targeted at hirers.