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The decision by supermarket chain Asda to pay agency workers the same as permanent staff in preparation for the European Agency Workers' Directive (AWD), due to take effect next year may have put some retailers off using temporary employees altogether.
De Poel, the temporary agency staff procurement and management specialists, who organise the supply of agency staff to Sainsbury's, the Co-op and Peacocks, will be holding a seminar at the Retail HR Summit 2010 to discuss this issue in depth with some of the industry's biggest players, including Clinton Cards, Marks and Spencer's, New Look and Thorntons.
De Poel believes temporary staff will continue to be 'extremely valuable' in helping retailers respond to shifts and dips. They suggest temporary recruitment is an effective and inexpensive means of bringing more young people into the industry, with temp to perm arrangements offering real opportunities for retailers to source graduates.
Matthew Sanders, Chief Executive of de Poel, said "we have no doubt that there are discussions going on within the retail sector at the moment looking at whether or not companies should switch their focus from temporary to permanent employment as a means of improving their recruitment strategies, especially with all the controversy over the AWD."
"And yet, whilst we can see the benefits of more permanent staff in creating a more stable workforce, companies need to remember that we are not out of the woods yet, and temporary agency labour is going to be extremely valuable in helping companies respond to peaks and troughs in the market."
He added "critically, temporary working is an effective and low-cost strategy for improving retailâ€™s reputation as a good career choice and aiding the influx of young graduates into the sector, something retailers have been trying to do for a long time."
"If anything, we think they should invest more into their temporary agency labour. As well as taking a more strategic approach to procurement and operations, they need to start swatting up on the AWD, because whether we like it not, temporary labour in the retail sector is never going to be altogether unavoidable and the AWD is going to happen."