A survey carried out by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies has found that the UK’s temporary workforce may face dwindling job prospects thanks to the implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR). The AWR mean that agency workers who have worked for a company for more than 12 weeks will receive the same rights to basic employment and working conditions as directly hired workers doing the same job.

The AWR intend to give agency workers more rights from day one, but a survey of the ARC’s corporate members has found that over half of the participants believe that some or all of their clients, who employ thousands of agency workers, may cut temporary workers as a result of the AWR and are unlikely to replace them with full time staff. The survey of the ARC’s members has discovered that nearly 52% of respondents believe that some or all of their clients are intending to decrease the size of their temporary workforce over the next year. 20% believe that any increase would be negligible. More than 50% believe that clients intend to end assignments before the 12 week mark, in order to avoid the rights applying.

The survey also highlights the burden that the Regulations are putting on businesses, with results indicating that many companies who hire agency workers face either costly software installation or escalating staff costs of administering the AWR. The results of the survey have shown that for a number of clients of the ARC’s members, as much as 10% of their working day will be spent on administrative tasks, such as tracking repeat short-term assignments of agency workers.

Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of the ARC has said:

“Our survey has shown that rather than protecting agency workers, the regulations are actually undermining the job market for them, yet increasing the administrative workload. At a time when unemployment has reached its highest level in decades, the government should be doing everything in its power to safeguard jobs for agency workers and support the businesses that hire them. These regulations are doing more harm than good.”

Mr Marlowe added:

“This isn’t about not wanting agency workers to have more equal rights; it is about retaining flexibility. We need a system that supports agency workers and businesses alike, and these regulations are clearly not benefitting either. We believe it is possible for the government to do more to protect agency workers’ jobs, this is why we are calling for the Government to commit to an early review of the AWR.”