Lord Young Backs Recruitment AgenciesNovember 26th, 2009 by Barry Potier
The most fundamental right is to have a job but this must be balanced against fairness and the rights of workers, Lord Young, minister for postal affairs and employment relations at the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS), told the REC National Convention in London today.
He told the audience of around 200 delegates that the government recognised that many workers enjoy agency work, as it gives them the flexibility and an opportunity to re-enter the labour market: “I see recruitment agencies making a positive contribution to this.”
Referring to the Agency Workers Directive (AWD), he admitted that this regulation was not something agencies would have asked for: “It will pose some challenges but we started from the point of view of taking a balanced approach.”
The minister said it wasn’t the government’s intention to make things difficult for recruiters but the AWD has to be balanced against workers’ rights: “Standards of behaviour [among agencies] are pretty good but there are one or two bad apples in the barrel. There are probably a few crafty customers out there.”
However, he continued: “That doesn’t mean that all agencies have standards that leave a lot to be desired — that’s far from the truth.” The best protection for agencies was to understand the regulations, for example so that they could advise candidates if there were any problems arising.
He recognised that people in business just wanted to get on and run the business and government was constantly looking to reduce the regulatory burden. Nevertheless, business needed to understand the regulations in place, otherwise “it would come back and bite them in the long term”.
And he made a pledge that the government would be sympathetic to the industry when introducing legislation: “The government will be introducing regulations in a way that enhances rather than discourages your industry.”
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