The UK Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) are scheduled to come into effect in Q4 2011. The majority of UK based Recruiters and HR Managers are aware that the regulations will require temporary workers to be treated similarly to permanent employees (although most aren’t aware of the details). Indeed, there has been significant media coverage about the likely negative impact of AWR.
However, as with most change, the introduction of AWR is likely to also present organisations with opportunities, as well as challenges. The key is likely to be whether organisations are able to identify these opportunities and are prepared to make the changes necessary to benefit from them.
One area of potential opportunity is likely to come from the core fact that AWR forces organisations to equalise the basic working and employment conditions offered to their permanent and temporary workforce. The negative consequences of these additional obligations have been heavily documented – increased pay bill, additional admin, the need to pay bonuses to temps. However, on the positive side, this could present an opportunity for organisations to include temporary workers in the workforce management systems and processes that were previously reserved for their permanent employees (e.g. performance management, pre-employment screening, performance related pay, etc). As it has done with permanent staff, the use of these systems and processes with temporary workers could generate real benefits in both in terms of workforce quality and cost.
In the past, temporary workers were often intentionally excluded from the systems and processes used by permanent staff for fear of inadvertently giving them employment rights. However, as under AWR temporary workers will now automatically obtain many of these rights, organisations have an opportunity to look again at which workforce management systems and processes could be usefully rolled out to their temporary workers. The key step is that organisations will need to start thinking about AWR as a potential source of opportunity rather than just as a problem which needs to be overcome.
Post written by Errol Forbes who works for the Contractor Talent Pool Software Company, Resourcing Circle.