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Top Gear Recruitment urges companies dependant on agency workers to act now or face the penalties for non compliance

Businesses in the supply chain sector are failing to get to grips with impending employment legislation, according to new research out today.

The Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which come into effect later this year, will have far reaching implications for the employment of agency workers. 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 full-time member of staff working in ‘the same’ or a ‘broadly similar’ capacity.

The survey of 100 companies – carried out by supply chain specialist Top Gear Recruitment – showed that whilst 90 per cent are aware of the AWR’s implementation date (1 October 2011), 40 per cent of employers stated they were unsure as to how the AWR might affect their business. A further 10 per cent said they were unaware of the consequences for non-compliance.

At present, the regulations state that after twelve weeks of work in an assignment, agency workers will be entitled to equal treatment in terms of working hours, overtime, breaks, rest periods and holidays. Temps will also be entitled to equal access to collective facilities such as childcare facilities, transport services or a canteen from the first day of their assignment.

Occupational benefits such as sick pay, a pension and maternity pay are excluded from the AWR, as are some bonuses. These are based on organisational performance or designed for the long-term motivation of employees.

Not surprisingly, financial concerns were ranked highly. 70 per cent of respondents admitted they were worried about the financial implications of the AWR, whist one in 10 said they would be less inclined to hire temporary labour as a result of the new employment law.
Astonishingly, despite the confusion, 27 per cent of those questioned said they would not be seeking professional guidance on the matter – this is despite the financial penalties for non-compliance.

Speaking of the findings, James Mallick, operations director at Top Gear Recruitment, said: "The supply chain sector relies heavily on agency workers. It comes as little surprise to see how much uncertainty this research has revealed.

"The Government has promised guidance notes to help businesses understand the AWR. However, these are not expected until later this year. It’s important, therefore, that employers have access to comprehensive information and guidance on how to best prepare for the implementation date."

He added: "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 you time and money or lead to an employment tribunal. To minimise the burden and disruption, it’s vital that businesses start getting to grips with the AWR now."

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