Published on 6th December 2023
The regulatory outlook for the agency work sector remains stable as 2023 comes to a close. Assessing the likelihood and potential impact of regulatory changes for the period of November 2023 until March 2024, half of the staffing executives from the 23 National Federations members surveyed by the World Employment Confederation (WEC) deem the situation to remain neutral.
In 7 countries, the impact of regulation changes is expected to be negative overall. The most concerning situations are in Belgium, linked to ongoing collective bargaining negotiations across sectors and national intervention to block solicitation fees charged to user companies for offering contracts to agency workers; Romania, where the sector faces a series of regulatory measures including a ban on employing Ukrainian citizens; Australia, because of a wide-ranging legislative proposal covering equal pay for agency workers and limits placed on casual work to address wage theft; as well as Chile, due to changes to minimum wage, working hours, and mandated daycares.
In 5 countries, the overall outlook is positive. Two examples: Estonia, where calls for the government to address environmental, social, and governance sustainability issues are welcomed, and there is hope for an increase in oversight of unethical competition, though official resources remain scarce; and Italy, where positive regulatory change concerns the training of migrant workers abroad before arriving in Italy and the possible role that agencies may play to help close the labour shortage gap.
Regulation Matters: Staffing Industry Myth Busting
Regulation is a major driver for the growth of the agency work sector. The WEC closely monitors the evolution of regulatory frameworks for agency work around the work and provides an annual overview through its Regulatory Report. The 2023 edition features the situation in 34 countries across the globe and paints the following regulatory landscape for the staffing industry.
Myth: The Staffing Industry Is the Wild West
82% of the countries surveyed require some form of government registration or licencing. 85% require periodic reporting from employment agencies, especially on the number of agency workers assigned.
56% of the countries surveyed require an objective justification for the deployment of agency workers, such as a temporary replacement or a temporary increase of activities.
Did you know that, on top of regulation, there are self-regulatory initiatives in place in 65% of countries surveyed? These most apply to the fields of Quality and Compliance of Employment Agencies, as well as in Training & Compliance, and Promotion of Occupational Health and Safety.
Myth: Agency Workers Have No Job Security and Less Benefits Than Permanent Workers
74% of countries surveyed have legally recognized the agency work contract. Other countries allow agency work, but no specific employment relationship for it has been recognised in law.
Working conditions of agency workers are predominantly impacted by national legislation and regulations that apply to the user-company (incl. via sectoral rules). With only a few exemptions, agency workers are treated equally with respect to access to social security benefits such as unemployment insurance, maternity benefits and labour related sickness or disability. In all but 3 countries, conditions and thresholds to access social security do not differ from other employment contracts.
Did you know that 85% of responding countries have some form of regulation in place that ensures equal treatment/pay for agency workers?
Myth: Agency Workers Can’t Stand for Their Rights
In 76% of countries, there exists some form of social dialogue between the agency work sector and trade unions. 46% – nearly half of surveyed countries – especially, but not exclusively, in Europe – engage in sectoral collective bargaining.
Did you know that Wages, Occupational Health & Safety, and Industry Quality are the main topics for Social dialogue?
Both the SERO and the Regulatory Report are exclusive membership benefit. WEC Members can find both products on the Members Area.
The Staffing Executive Regulatory Outlook (SERO) is a bi-annual poll amongst top executives of WEC’s National Federations members around the world. In this edition, staffing executives assessed the likelihood and potential impact of regulatory changes on the staffing industry from November 2023 until March 2024.
Executives of 23 federations have responded to this edition of the SERO.
The Regulatory Report is an annual snapshot of the regulatory framework for the agency work sector across the world. The report builds on a survey amongst WEC’s National Federation Members covering five different categories of regulatory elements:
34 countries replied for the 2023 edition.
WEC’s National Federations Members benefitted from the support of Ius Laboris, WEC’s legal and regulatory partner, to ensure high quality of survey responses.