The Government published its response to the July 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in February 2018. We report generally on the Government's response here. It is clear that the Government intends to make sure that all workers understand their status and receive the benefits to which they are entitled; that workers know their rights and are able to enforce them; and that organisations which exploit workers bear the consequences. The four consultations issued alongside the Government's response are all highly relevant to the recruitment sector, for which employment status and flexible working have long been key issues. However, as a result of recommendations made in the Taylor Review, one of the consultations is aimed specifically at the recruitment sector.
The "Consultation on agency workers recommendations" acknowledges the important role the recruitment sector plays in ensuring that the UK's labour market works effectively. It also emphasises the need to ensure that the right balance is struck between maintaining flexibility in the labour market and ensuring that workers are afforded necessary rights and protections. The consultation therefore seeks views in the following four areas:
- How to improve the transparency of information provided to work seekers, in particular in relation to rates of pay and who is responsible for payment, and whether this could be achieved by staffing companies issuing a stand-alone "key facts" page to work seekers;
- How extending the remit of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) to cover the policing of certain activities of umbrella companies and other intermediaries in the supply chain would improve working conditions for work seekers;
- Repealing the Agency Workers Regulations' (AWR) 'Swedish Derogation', the legislation that allows agency workers to opt out of equal pay entitlements if they are engaged on a permanent contract of employment and paid between assignments; and
- Extending the remit of the EASI to include ensuring compliance with the AWR.
Staffing companies should consider carefully how the implementation of these proposals and those contained in the other three consultations (on employment status, measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market, and enforcement of employment rights) might impact on their business, and respond to the consultations directly and/or via their trade association to try and influence the outcome. The deadline for submitting responses to the agency workers consultation is 9 May 2018.