In the first quarter of 2013, 286 members of the recruitment sector provided their comments on the Government’s proposals to change the legislation currently regulating that sector, commonly known as the “Conduct Regs”. The Government has now released a document containing a summary of those comments and has confirmed its intentions going forward.  

By way of a summary of some of the key points in this response, the Government will replace the Conduct Regs with new legislation which:  

  • allows limited company contractors to opt out;
  • continues to prohibit employment businesses from withholding payment from agency workers;
  • continues to restrict employment businesses from enforcing unreasonable temp to perm fees;
  • requires that it be made clear to a worker which entity in the chain is responsible for paying him;
  • continues to apply restrictions to the fees that can be charged to hirers with respect to permanent and temporary placements;
  • continues to prohibit employment agencies and businesses from penalising work-seekers for terminating or giving notice to terminate a placement;
  • requires employment agencies and employment businesses to keep sufficient records; and
  • removes job boards from the definition of “employment agency” and will make clear which entities do fall within that definition.

The Government has indicated that the team currently responsible for investigating breaches of the National Minimum Wage legislation will extend its remit to complaints made by agency workers. A small Government team will enforce the remainder of the new Regulations. The Government has also stated that individuals will be able to enforce their rights “informally and through the courts”. However, it has not yet been made clear whether this means the Employment Tribunal (the recourse for any agency worker claims under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010) or the civil courts such as the small claims courts, etc. Furthermore, clarity has not been provided as to which entities fall within the definition of “employment business” – another point for consideration when the draft Regulations are released.

There will be another short consultation on the draft Regulations. The Government has not yet indicated when this will be.

The full Government response, should you want to read it, is 31 pages.  It is reasonably heavy going, it has to be said!