Christmas Eve marks the day that the AWR’s first batch of ‘equal treatment’ provisions kick in to effect for temporary workers, a significant proportion of whom, of course, are made up of highly skilled PAYE umbrella contactors.

This Saturday sees the end of the first 12-week qualifying period defined by the Agency Workers Regulations, which came into effect on 1stOctober. But what are the implications for contractors working through umbrella companies?

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Professional Services at the REC, quickly reassured observers that “nothing cataclysmic” was on the cards. However, recruiters should use the date as a prompt to ensure that they’re “as prepared as possible” to deal with claims or queries from affected workers, he added.

Mr Hadley went on to say that the REC’s priority was ensuring that good internal mechanisms were in place to nip misunderstandings about the regulations in the bud. A huge surge in activity was unlikely, he believes, but went on to say:

“Ultimately, the best way of avoiding any tribunals will be to be to ensure that there are clear and transparent communication channels between agencies, candidates and employers.”

He anticipated that the number of tribunals resulting from the AWR would be limited, a view that the REC shares with other organisations such as ACAS. On a general note, he said, the overall demand for agency staff – including skilled PAYE umbrella contractors – remains strong. He pledged that the REC will continue to monitor the impact of the regulations “as we move past the 24th December milestone.”

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