Demand for temporary workers remains high as Agency Workers Regulations loom

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The majority of employers (83%) plan either to maintain or increase their use of temporary staff over the next three months, despite the impending introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations.

This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) Jobs Outlook report, which also found that more than one-fifth (22%) of employers expect to increase their use of temporary workers over the next quarter.

On 1 October, the Agency Workers Regulations come into force, giving temporary workers the right to the same basic employment conditions as direct recruits after 12 weeks in the role.

However, there has been some concern that employers will simply cut their use of agency workers once the Regulations come in.

A survey by international law firm Allen & Overy found that one-third of medium to large businesses admitted that they may attempt to avoid additional costs caused by the Regulations by terminating temporary workers’ contracts before the end of the 12-week qualifying period.

However, the REC report showed a more positive outlook for agency workers, with employers forecasting long-term increases in their use of temps. Of the 600 employers surveyed, 86% plan either to maintain or increase the size of their temporary workforce over the next year.

The outlook for permanent staff in the REC report, however, was less optimistic, with a fall in the number of employers looking to take on more staff over the next quarter, down from 67% in August to 53% this month.

REC director of research Roger Tweedy commented: “The September figures show a complex picture emerging among employers and their hiring intentions. This month’s marked dip in both business and consumer confidence has put the brakes on the jobs market.

“Yet, despite the imminent introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations, employers are still looking to build flexibility into their workforces while an overall air of uncertainty prevails in the jobs market.”

For more information on the new rights for temporary workers read our guide: Five things employers need to know about the Agency Workers Regulations.

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