Extrastaff – helping you understand the rules about blue collar temps
Extrastaff’s experienced managers can help warehouse and logistics operations keep abreast of their legal responsibilities regarding drivers and other blue collar temp staff. Tim Millward, founder of Extrastaff, looks at some of the key areas.
Following an EU directive, since September 2009 all new drivers who undertake a test to drive a vehicle of 7.5t and above are required to pass and hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). By September 2014, this will be the case for all existing licence holders too. Many drivers see this as so far in the future that they feel it’s not necessary yet, and that by magic it may just disappear; some haven’t even heard about it. There has been a lack of publicity surrounding driver CPCs, and agency drivers in particular are reluctant to organise it, as it means taking time off working Monday to Friday and thereby using their holiday up. Furthermore they are even less inclined to self-fund the training.
Our response has been to publicise the Driver CPC’s existence and forge a strong partnership with a professional training college to undertake weekend training, which Extrastaff funds up front. If drivers remain loyal for a minimum 6 months, we absorb the whole cost. Courses are planned over the next 12 months, with drivers having to undertake 5 separate sessions of 7 hours before 2014 to comply with the legislation. In some instances we are able to involve our client’s drivers to supplement numbers and create stronger relationships with them. The take up has been massive, with strong positive feedback from the participants.
Another EU directive, The Agency Workers Directive (AWD) represents the biggest change and challenge to the recruitment agency sector since its inception in the 1950’s. At the moment, the Agency Workers Directive is a particular source of confusion, and the implications are not yet fully understood. Whilst the AWD was published under the Labour Government and the Coalition has said it cannot do a great deal about changing it, the new Government is going to be issuing guidance notes as to interpretation of the Directive and its likely impact. Until the guidance notes are published no one can be certain how the AWD will be enforced in the UK.
Under the legislation Temporary Workers will receive the same rights and benefits accorded to their full time counterparts after a minimum 12-week qualifying period. For regular temps working on long-term contracts, this can work fairly well and is relatively easy to manage. However a temporary worker will only have to work one day a week to qualify, and there can even be gaps of up to four weeks. For example a driver who works for five different companies each week for 12 consecutive weeks, will potentially have these rights with all five companies. This has the potential for a huge increase in administrative costs for both the agency and the customer, as whilst the agency has the primary obligation both will probably be held liable for ensuring compliance. Logically clients will presumably be under an obligation to provide pay comparators for permanent staff doing similar work.
A direct increase in the charge rate to clients is an obvious consequence, as an increase in pay will have to be passed on by the agency. However there are a couple of potential solutions to ensure it doesn’t have a detrimental effect for the client, agency and the temp worker.
One possibility is to transfer the temporary workers onto the agency on a full time basis, to work under a contract of service as opposed to a contract of service. The agency would have to fulfil a number of obligations, including offering a minimum amount of work at a given pay rate. This is known as the Swedish Derogation and is already used by some international competitors.
Alternatively a client might be able to have an operation that is solely run by agency staff, and therefore there is no wage or benefit comparison with full time staff. It will be interesting to see how the guidance notes impact our sector, which is very fast paced and where many temps may not work beyond the 12 week period.
Working Time Directive:
Another EU directive, since 1998 all mobile workers, both drivers and mates, have received the same rights as all other workers – 20 days paid holiday per annum. This has subsequently increased for all temp workers to 28 days. This has led to an increase in direct costs, and an increased shortage of drivers to cover ‘extra’ holidays, and hence an increase in advertising costs. Whilst an increase in costs is always an issue it has made the job of an agency driver more attractive.
In 2006, mobile workers had their working hours restricted to 48 hours per week. The burden of administering this fell upon the agency. Extrastaff’s response was to appoint an internal administrator to ensure compliance and record hours worked. Furthermore, we introduced an internal auditing procedure and trained all internal staff utilising the FTA.
At about the same time the government formed the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA), following on from the Morecombe Bay disaster, controlling temps primarily working in agriculture, forestry, food production and packaging. Whilst we hold a licence we do not work within this sector as a matter of choice as it goes against our business model, because generally numbers are high and margins are low.
In order for Extrastaff to stay one step ahead and show an auditable trail, we have developed an independent bespoke IT system at a cost of nearly £100,000 to help our teams work better. We never lose the human touch, but the system helps us keep constant track of each temp and each client’s requirements and the relationship between the two, whilst having compliance issues fully built in. The system, which is currently being beta tested, will not only be able to record each temp’s assignment with every client and the hours worked, but also measure a variety of KPI’s, which can be requested by each client. The plan is that clients will be able to access compliance files via a secure web link for their temps, in order to ensure their eligibility and suitability to work on any given assignment. This revolutionary product will enable us to pull together the variety of legislative processes that every agency has to undertake and provide a one stop shop for all our and our clients’ needs.
Extrastaff Ltd Tel: 01727 810000 www.extrastaff.com