Amidst ongoing concern amongst jobbing PAYE umbrella contractors about the potentially negative impact of the Agency Workers Regulations, a recent webinar organised by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation suggests that the effects remain minimal so far.

Key contributors to the webinar included legal experts Paul Chamberlain of Brarners, Chaffe, Street solicitors and the REC’s own solicitor and Head of Professional Services, Lewina Farrell. 140 people participated, raising queries about ‘pay between assignments’ arrangements and other issues relating to the regulations, such as calculating holiday entitlements and managing requests for information.

A poll of REC members, which include recruiters finding placements for contractors working through umbrella companies, gave an interesting snapshot of the AWR’s emerging impact (although perhaps the main question should be ‘Impact? What impact?’). 86% of respondents rated the AWR’s effect on demand as either minimal or nil. Only 15% described the impact as ‘significant’.

Given the fanfare of publicity surrounding the regulations last October when they were implemented, a surprisingly small 9% of respondents reported that workers were raising difficult questions or preparing a challenge. Just 8% believed that there would be a surge in tribunals over the next six months.

The seminar concluded that, while the effects of the regulations on demand for contractors and other temporary workers remain negligible, continued support for practical implementation was necessary. It seems that hirers still want skilled contactors for specific roles rather than taking the risk of hiring permanent staff, and are prepared to work with recruiters to navigate viable courses through the new regulations to that end.

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