Recruitment consultants and HR managers seized the opportunity to influence government guidance on the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) 2010 in an interactive meeting hosted by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) and key representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on 12 April.
The draft guidance was issued on 4 April, with only a two-week window within which to provide feedback. ARC acted swiftly to give recruiters and hiring managers the platform to ask any questions about the guidance face-to-face with BIS – an exercise that BIS found “extremely valuable”.
During the meeting, ARC chairman Adrian Marlowe presented the forensic, legal analysis of the guidance, tackling each area point by point to clarify and explain any ambiguities, and request further guidance and illustrative examples from BIS.
There were 180 recruitment and HR professionals in attendance, a third of whom were hirers from client organisations, and they were able to put forward their suggestions and requirements directly to BIS.
Lead officials from BIS employment relations incorporated the feedback in real time, making amendments to ensure that the final published guidance will be a workable and practical document that will help employers and the recruitment sector to understand and implement the AWR effectively.
The lead BIS official said: “The seminar that ARC hosted proved extremely valuable in helping us with our work on the AWR guidance. To be able to gather so many salient points on the draft version not only served as an excellent opportunity for us to fully understand any remaining worries that those in the recruitment industry might still have, but will ultimately help us produce the best possible guidance for the new regulations.”
Key issues that were addressed during the session were:
- What constitutes a ‘profession’.
- Clarification of the definition of ‘business in your own account’.
- A vote by attendees that it would not be helpful to include self-employment tests in the guidance on the basis that a tick-box approach would open recruiters up to too many risks.
- Acknowledgement that “one-hour employment contracts” do not comply, and the Swedish Derogation model needs further clarification to ensure that employers are not in breach of the AWR.
Senior recruitment agency executives found the seminar practical, hands-on, and enlightening. John Larkin, managing director of Resource Group, said: “I thought the event was extremely lucid in the points raised. I was especially impressed by the points on the Swedish Derogation, which made it clear that it is not the panacea; and the one-hour rule is a bubble that was popped very quickly. The seminar is another example of ARC being proactive about issues that are current for its membership. It pushes to clarify the implications of those issues, and suggests sensible routes forward to resolve them.”
Stephen Buxton, operations manager at FDM Group, said: “It was a comprehensive, knowledgeable presentation on the draft proposal, and ARC allowed our views regarding the guidance to be listened to by the people who are drafting it. ARC looks after the recruitment industry’s best interests, and wants the flexible workforce within the UK to continue without too much intrusive legislation.”
Ben Grover, responsible for ARC external policy, said: “We created the opportunity for ARC members and guests to be part of the progress, and to influence the AWR guidance, within a short timeframe. The purpose was to strengthen the recruitment sector’s understanding of the implications and implementation of the AWR, to eliminate confusion and the risk of claims, and therefore to enhance the recruitment industry’s reputation.”
For further comment or analysis on the AWR guidance, contact Ben Grover on 01273 777997 or AWR@arc-org.net