Agency Workers’ Directive – good news for procurement?

As of Saturday, the Agency Workers’ Directive has come into force across the European Union – although there are questions about how serious certain countries are in terms of implementing it.

Under the directive, after 12 weeks in the same role with the same hirer (line manager presumably), agency workers will be entitled to the same pay, holiday entitlement and working hours as permanent staff, and they will also receive improved maternity rights.

I’m sure there are some temporary workers who have been treated badly, and you can understand why we’d want to stamp out really bad practice and exploitation.  But equally there are many within the contingent labour universe who are paid better than permanent staff, and welcome the felxibility it gives them.

And it’s hard to see that this is going to do anything for employment, or the European economy, at a difficult time, as it creates more barriers and concerns for anyone who is thinking of employing people.  We suspect there will be some creative ways round it as well – a lot of temps getting a slightly different job description and a “new” contract every 11 weeks perhaps?

It does mean however that Human Resources and Procurement people will need to make sure they have a grip on the use of temporary (contingent) labour in their organisation. If you don’t know how many agency workers you have in the business, or which firms are supplying them, let alone how long they’ve been in place and what they’re earning, then you can’t possibly know whether you’re working within the regulations.

So there are opportunities for procurement functions that aren’t involved in this spend area to make the case for greater involvement. As well as bringing some commercial capability to bear on agency arrangements, and perhaps taking the opportunity to look at rationalising what is often a very dispersed spend picture in large organisations, procurement can also emphasise the aspect of compliance to the law.

We also expect this to be good news for the providers of “vendor management systems”– software that assists in the management of temporary labour populations.  These products can help to track and administer individual workers, manage issues around compliance and security, as well as supporting contract and cost management.  They also support the commercial and sourcing processes within this area, and indeed associated spend areas such as “statement of works” type expenditure.  Leading providers in that area, some of whom we have featured here previously, include Emptoris, Beeline, Fieldglass, IQ Navigator and peopleclickauthoria.

So if procurement is not already on top of this contingent labour category, this may be a good time to take a look at how you might get involved, or improve your current contribution.

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Voices (2)

  1. TripleDistilled:

    @Andrew. That has pretty much what has happened. NL, FR, & IT have all got very structured and rigorous approaches to external staff where the externals are for all intents and purposes, employees of the agency (so it is much more like a true consulting agreement) and IT even requires agencies to have licences to practice. BE prohibits temporary labour outright (with some leeway for maternity leave and in cases where “Specialist knowledge” are required). ES pretty much follow DE (I.e Ignore)and the only real point of worry is Denmark where, as like the UK, the trade unions are running amok and putting in all sorts of requirements.

    For the rest of the countries; was a real good resource

    @peter; the BIS guidance notes on AWR are well worth a read. It could be the basis of a drinking game; take a shot each time it contradicts itself. Could prove expensive though

  2. Andrew:

    The Eurosceptic in me wonders if this will be yet another example of a directive that the UK implements in full, several other countries implement in part, and a number of other countries ignore altogether (with no real consequence).

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