The coalition government’s response on 5th July 2010 to a House of Commons question as to their intentions for the Agency Workers Regulations, namely whether they have plans to amend or replace the Regulations, was far from definitive. Ed Davey the (Liberal Democrat) Minister for Employment Relations gave a written answer that indicated that the government was ‘currently considering the way forward’. Contrary to some media reports this does not amount to the announcement of a review.
However a review is required, says Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of the ARC. Pointing to two of the Coalition’s agreed commitments in this area, to cut back gold plating of EU Directives and to reduce unnecessary costs, he said “the delay in announcing a review is worrying. There are a number of areas in which the Government could make significant savings, not the least because the public sector is one of the largest hirers of temporary agency workers in the UK. The ARC believes that as currently drafted the Regulations will give rise to a glut of ill-founded Employment Tribunal claims which will incur unnecessary costs for agencies and hirers as well as the tribunals service even when claims are disposed of relatively early in the Employment Tribunal process. It is not clear why the Government is refraining from comment, after nearly three months following the election.”
To comply with the Coalition’s principles the ARC believes that the only solution is for a complete reassessment of the practicalities in key areas, particularly as to how the Tribunals Service will deal with claims. Adrian Marlowe concluded “People want to know. Modification of the Regulations could save both private and public sector millions of pounds at a time when every penny counts. The ARC urges the Government to take a pragmatic approach, to distance itself from the previous administration’s commitments, and to grasp this particular nettle with determination.”