The Agency Workers Regulations are due to be implemented in the UK in October 2011. The regulations aim to provide protection to vulnerable agency workers but many other contractors, including those working through umbrella companies; will be caught by the legislation. The coalition government has announced plans to review the regulations as they stand at present, this sentiment was echoed by the minister of State for Business & Enterprise Mark Prisk MP during his recent personal visit to the operational head quarters of Crystal Umbrella. However, all member states of the European Union have a duty to implement the Agency Workers Directive by 5th December 2011.
There are concerns that any revisions considered and subsequently implemented by business secretary Vince Cable could harm the deal made by CBI and the TUC which agreed that temporary workers would obtain the same terms and conditions as permanent staff at the same company when they had been working there for 12 weeks. Originally the unions were looking for equitable rights from day one which was an unsatisfactory position for a lot of freelance workers, particularly those who are high earners and were concerned that businesses would opt not to use temporary staff as it would cost them too much. This, in turn, would have an impact on the flexible nature of freelancing which is of benefit to the business community. The fear is that if revisions are drawn up which the union disagree with, it may prompt them once again to seek equality from day one.
While the review by the coalition government has been met with some criticism, others have seen it as a ray of light. However, irrespective of any changes this directive must become law by the end of next year and must meet the requirements otherwise there could be subsequent legal challenges in the years to come.
So as with everything we do at Crystal Umbrella, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and update our contractor workforce and network of agency partners as soon as a concrete decision as to the future of the AWD has been made.
Service Delivery Department
Supplying prudent, profitable and practical payment solutions to the UK contractor market