Lucy Bristow on impact of Agency Workers Regulations

Lucy Bristow

Lucy Bristow is the founder of Lucy Bristow Appointments, an award winning recruitment business that works across the South West and nationally.

In her first column for The North Somerset Business Leader, Lucy takes a look at the impact Agency Workers’ Regulations have had on businesses and employment.

Impact of Agency Workers Regulations

A year on from the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), opinions are divided over the effects.

The regulations, which were implemented on 1 October 2011, were introduced to give temporary agency workers equal treatment with comparable permanent workers after a 12-week qualifying period.

In the lead up to its launch, the industry feared that it might reduce the use of agency workers and consequently damage the flexibility of the UK’s labour market.

Limited damage?

Fortunately the damage seems to be limited.

Recent REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) research shows that only one in 10 employers had stopped or significantly decreased the use of temporary staff in the eight months to April 2012, while a further 18% marginally reduced their use of agency workers.

From the start we made sure we understood the regulations and kept our clients informed as the legislation came into force.

I’m pleased to say that it hasn’t had the negative impact that was feared – we haven’t seen a decline in employers demand for temporary staff.


The one downside that we as a business experienced was that we had to absorb the additional costs involved in the administration and implementation of the legislation. But even this is not prohibitive.

What the legislation has done and what is most noticeable, is that we are seeing temporary staff greatly benefit from better pay and terms and conditions of employment.

Government review

Government plans a review of AWR next year, however, in my opinion, they shouldn’t tamper further except perhaps to simplify regulations where I feel that there still is considerable misunderstanding, often because they of the way they are drafted.

The good news is that the REC is predicting a rapid return to the use of temps as growth returns, with its latest data showing the use of temps is already starting to pick up even with the economy still in contraction.

Therefore it has to be a priority for Government to ensure that the temporary labour market remains as buoyant as possible.

More about Lucy Bristow

Lucy set up the business 24 years ago and currently employs 7 consultants. All are REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) qualified.

The former Top 10 Female Entrepreneur award winner earlier this year featured on the ITV Business Club, as one of a panel of five businessmen and women from around the West Country. She also recently launched Digby Bristow Executive Appointments in memory of her father.