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The Future of Work

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With Christmas approaching, the Royal Mail is taking on 18,000 temporary staff to help cover the extra work. This happens every year. This year, though, all job enquires are being directed to a company called Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Mail. It doesn’t just handle temporary staff over Christmas. There appears to be no way to get a job as a postal worker these days except by going through Angard.

The normal contract is for 38 weeks (less for the temporary Christmas workers). Staff are employed by Angard but seconded to the Royal Mail. They are required to do any work that their Royal Mail manager requests, though they are officially supervised by an Angard manager. They are not guaranteed any regular hours, and have no fixed place of work (though they will not be required to work outside the UK). They will not be paid for hours they do not work. For this they will be paid the minimum wage: £6.08 an hour (£4.98 if you’re under 21).

In other words, they will do exactly the same job as a Royal Mail employee, but for £2.78 an hour less. They could be sitting around waiting for a telephone call for days on end, to get only a few hours work a week. They can be moved from site to site and job to job at will. If they turn a job down, for any reason, they can be dismissed. Night workers are paid 50p extra an hour.

On 1 October the EU Agency Workers Regulations came into force in the UK. These give agency workers the same rights as permanent employees after 12 weeks. However, by employing the agency workers directly through a subsidiary, the Royal Mail appears to be able to side-step the regulations. The guidance for employers from the government says:

Those who are likely to be outside the scope of the regulations include… individuals working for in-house temporary staffing banks where a company employs its temporary workers directly (and they only work for that same business or service).

All other agency workers have had their contracts cancelled and replaced by Angard contracts. In many cases workers have had to wait weeks to be paid. One Angard worker told me it took over a month for him to get his first pay cheque. He said that the management are virtually impossible to get hold of and that if you ask them a question they fob you off. On several occasions he was given shifts which were cancelled when he turned up for work. The excuse? They were double-booked.

The Royal Mail denies it’s trying to get round the regulations. ‘The company is fully compliant with UK employment law,’ it says, ‘and any suggestion that Angard Staffing Solutions has been set up to, in some way, get round the new Agency Workers Regulations is nonsense.’

Still, Angard staff are not covered by agreements made with the union, and although they have the right to statutory holiday and sick pay, their conditions of employment are, by definition, less secure than their permanent colleagues’. It seems certain that only compliant employees will be kept on for more than 38 weeks. With unemployment on the rise, and jobs ever more scarce, is this the future of work in the UK?

Comments on “The Future of Work”

  1. dbg846004 says:

    I totally agree with everything written in this post and I really feel sorry for all the casuals working with Royal Mail through Angard Staffing. I know many people working in same situation and not being paid correctly/weekly as mentioned in the contract and when they try to contact Angard, they are being told that they did not get the time sheet from Royal mail and when they try to contact Royal mail they are being told that any query regarding sallary must be asked to Angard staffing because they have no concern about their sallary.
    I also don’t understand the fact that after Angard tookover the casual employment from Royal mail why the sallary was reduced. Before this action was taken the sallary paid to the casual employees was bit more than what is being paid now. Also its very annoying that for the same job the permanent employees are being paid much more and also they do not work as much as casuals do because the casuals have the fear to loose the job whereas if a manager says anything to a permanent employee they threaten the manager that they will complain in the union against them.
    All together I just feel sorry for all those casuals affected by this action and hope that someone will come in front to help them in this situation so that they get a fair justice and good pay for the work they are doing

  2. Roy Mayall says:

    Thanks for your comment dbg846004. The reason Angard workers have to work harder than their full-time colleagues isn’t to do with the union though – or only partly. A full time workers knows his right – or – as you say – he can talk to the union rep, but the Angard contract finishes after 38 weeks, so an Angard worker who complains too much just isn’t going to get his contract renewed. What worries me is that the EU agency workers regulations are being so easily side-stepped by these arrangements, and the fact that RM no longer seem to want to take on employees other than through Angard. As I say above, is this the future of work in the UK?

  3. deborah2011 says:

    Angard are offically the worst recruitment agency that I have ever come across!! I signed up to do some xmas work in Dorset and they advised that all my vetting had cleared and was offered the job pending a starting date, well the work was meant to start 05/12 and still no confirmation or contact from them. After calling on several separate occasions to there 0845 and waiting what seems years for someone to finally answer the phone, you then get to speak to an alien consultant that speaks a different language, advising you are awaiting vetting clearance…….funny that as he never actually asked my name, so how he knew that out of 18,000 people is amazing!!! The Post Office are also totally uninterested and advised you need to speak to Angard. A complete shambles and lack of respect shown for those who spent money attending the recruitment interviews and process and relying on that money at this time of year!!!

  4. Petronius says:

    Angard Staffing Solutions have behaved in a most despicable and appalling manner: inexcusable and totally unacceptable actions and behaviour to “ALL its supposedly highly valued and indispensable Christmas casuals” as often quoted by RM’s senior management!

    Most of the 15,000 casual staff employed since November 2011 have still not been paid!

    Some basics that have not been attended to by the incompetent and inept grossly overpaid directors of RM:

    No properly functioning payroll system, no properly staffed payroll helplines, a completely inept recruitment process, non-payment of most of its staff, the use of reed.co.uk as a subcontracted agency with a range of constantly ringing 0845 phone lines is utterly unacceptable!

    It is utterly despicable, TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE and morally corrupt not to pay Christmas casuals correctly or not at all whilst Royal Mail’s senior managers and directors namely MOYA GREENE and JOHN DUNCAN, director of HR at RMG heap lavish fat cat bonuses on themselves based on THE PERFORMANCE, HARD WORK AND DEDICATED COMMITMENT OF the 15,000 CASUAL WORKFORCE!

    Their Christmas bonuses SHOULD BE WITHELD UNTIL EVERY SINGLE CASUAL WORKER IS PAID CORRECTLY! I am still owed £650.38 gross salary.
    Disgraceful behaviour, incompetence and complete ineptitude on the part of ANGARD STAFFING SOLUTIONS LTD!

    Angard has been operational since January 2011 and adopted a payroll system/offshoot from RMG so what exactly is happening?

    ANGARD STAFFING SOLUTIONS LTD SHOULD BE SEVERELY PUNISHED AND ALL ITS DIRECTORS HEAVILY FINED BY CAUSING SO MUCH DISTRESS TO ITS CASUAL/TEMPORARY WORKERS.

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