Many haulage companies experience a lack of drivers at some point throughout the year – especially around the holiday season. So, how do you quickly find qualified truck drivers you can trust? Hiring from an agency is a great option to help restore your workforce to its full strength in no time at all. Let me explain how this can help your company, and give you a brief overview of the most important legalities involved in dealing with temporary work agencies. |
What is an Agency Worker?
An agency worker is a driver – or other employee – supplied by a temporary work bureau. These recruits, though provided for a temporary period, are different from temporary staff hired directly by haulage companies, and there are different laws regarding their employment.
How Can Agency Workers Help You?
It’s common for haulage companies to struggle to find enough drivers over busy periods, such as Christmas, as well as during the summer, which is when your regular drivers may want to relax on a beach or spend time with their kids during annual leave. Agency hires can be the perfect short-term solution to help fill gaps in your workforce. However, it’s important to know the legalities that accompany this short-term help.
In 2010, the Agency Workers Regulations came into force. These regulations set out how the relationship between the third party (you) and the temporary work company must function. For example, agency workers are entitled to make use of the same amenities and facilities – such as car parking and canteens – as your ordinary staff. Haulage companies must also let the agency personnel know if there are job vacancies available.
Once a temporary hire has completed twelve weeks on the job, the company that they work for must ensure that they are being treated fairly by comparing their status with a ‘comparable employee’. What this means is that the temp must receive fair pay, bonuses, commission, sick pay and annual leave that are commensurate with that of their employed colleagues. This is called their twelve-week right. In essence, the ‘comparable employee’ must be doing a similar job under similar conditions.
It is also important that you clearly define your company’s relationship with agency workers by outlining their employment status. As their employment status is somewhat tricky from a legal perspective, – usually, but not always, they are classed as ‘workers’, and not employees – it is vital to get this right. Operators’ legal duties and responsibilities towards employees and temps are different. However, calling someone a ‘worker’ and treating them as an employee is not acceptable.
As the consequences of not following the law can be extremely costly, – whether through staff claims, HMRC fines or tax claims – it is of paramount importance that haulage companies do their research before taking on agency workers. However, with all of the right legalities in place, they can be a great help for freight forwarders during busy periods.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies or self-employed drivers with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,800 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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