Having now worked in the recruitment industry for nearly 35 years, one of the obvious things that has changed is the amount of legislation that now governs our everyday activities. As a firm believer in providing equal opportunities that provides a platform for the 'best candidate to get the job', I canít help thinking that much of the well meaning or not so well meaning legislation misses the mark.
As a society it is important that we look after those who would otherwise be marginalised or excluded, but clearly legislation is not always the answer. How can you justify legislation that either deals with such a small % of the population but requires everyone to be involved (effectively suggesting that everyone is a criminal), or looks to protect a certain sector of the workforce but ends up marginalising roughly 50% (in this case women)?
AWR (Agency Workers Regulations)
AWR was implemented in October 2011 to give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job. These basic working and employment conditions include paid time off for ante-natal appointments for pregnant workers. On the face of it, is AWR a well meaning piece of legislation or a political own goal?
Surely some hirers will view this as a risk. If faced with the prospect of two agency workers, one male and one female, would many hiring managers automatically favour the male? Are we at risk of adding to the already ingrained prejudice some hiring managers have towards employing or engaging young women into entry level roles?
Female unemployment at record high
With the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that the amount of unemployed women in the UK has reached a 23-year high of 1.128 million, I fear that these changes to the AWR will not help to reduce female unemployment, but actually increase it further. 300,000 of these unemployed female workers have been out of work for over a year, and agency work is often a way for them to get a foot in the door and get back to earning a living.
With these legislative changes potentially planting doubt in hiring managersí minds when hiring female agency workers, I fail to see how this is helping unemployed women and also those female workers who are currently engaged in an agency role.
This government promised us that it would deal with the legislation that effectively puts a noose around the necks of employers and provide a platform for us to, once again, use our common sense. AWR may just be the place to start.
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