Agency Workers Regulations leading to cuts in temporary workers

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Employers scaled back their use of temporary workers in the run up to the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations, according to research by the CBI and recruitment consultancy Harvey Nash.

The CBI Employment Trends Survey, which surveyed 462 UK companies and was conducted between August and September 2011, shortly before the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations on 1 October, found that 20% of employers were planning to reduce their use of temporary workers.

While 16% of organisations planned to increase their temporary workforce, the net score for those bringing in or cutting temporary positions was -4.

Overall, the survey highlighted a positive job outlook, with nearly half (47%) of employers predicting that their workforces would be larger by next year and 19% expecting to down-size, resulting in a net score of +28%. This contrasts with recent data published last week by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which pointed to a contraction in the job market for the first time in two years.

Small firms with fewer than 250 employees were even more likely to be looking to expand their workforce with a net score of +35%.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI deputy director-general, commented: “It is encouraging that firms right across the UK are growing their workforces, especially smaller companies. But employers are making hiring plans on shifting sands and there is a risk that the tentative private sector jobs recovery could be blown off course by fast-moving economic events at home and abroad.

“We need to be doing all we can to get the UK working, so it is worrying that changes to rules around hiring agency workers are leading to fewer openings for temps.”

Information and guidance on the Agency Workers Regulations can be found in Personnel Today’s employer’s guide on the topic.

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