By Max Clarke

Discussions with the Employment Relations Minister Ed Davey in December focused on some of the grey areas that need to be addressed in the official guidance.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has since been actively involved in a number of consultation workshops organised by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). These have provided opportunities for raising a number of common queries put forward by recruiters as well as a useful steer on how some of the requirements are likely to be interpreted.

One of the principal areas of uncertainty surrounds benefits and bonuses that come within the scope of equal treatment. Recent workshops have confirmed the underlying philosophy that bonuses and commissions that can be directly linked to the agency worker’s own performance are within scope.

Organisation-wide bonuses are out of scope but there is some debate around team bonuses — for example, where an agency worker has worked for an employer for a significant period of time and contributed to directly to the success of a team.

Another interesting area of debate is around bonuses that are linked to individual performance but that are based on appraisals rather than on objective criteria such as piece-rates. The general steer is that end-users will not have to start appraising temporary staff but agencies may need to put in place measures that mirror the appraisal process that is in place in the end-user. This is an area on which the REC will be looking for further feedback from recruiters.

Commenting on the latest developments Lewina Farrell, the REC’s Head of Legal and Professional Services said:

“The REC will continue to ensure that the ongoing feedback from members is reflected in the final guidance document. On most issues, the workshops are confirming the interpretations of the REC’s legal team which is why we have always maintained that recruiters do not need to wait for the final guidance to be published to start preparing and engaging with their clients.

“In terms of the general style and tone of the document, we have pushed for practical examples to be used and for prescriptive lists wherever possible - particularly with regards to the specific employee benefits and bonuses that will come within the scope of equal treatment.

“Getting the guidance right will play an important role in ensuring that the regulations are workable. As well as working with Government on the official guidance, our priority over the coming months is to work with recruiters to ensure that the necessary systems in place.”