How staffing platforms work for employers: the 5 questions you should be asking!

Sunday, June 12th, 2016
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Temporary workers are a lifeline to businesses, especially in times of economic uncertainty. You’ve probably had your bacon saved by temps on many occasions, and you probably have temp agencies that you regularly work with. But with temp agencies springing up everywhere (more were launched in 2014 than at any other time since 1990), it’s becoming something of a recruitment wild west out there. So, how do temp agencies work for employers is a good question to ask when many new and old recruitment agencies share bad practices, opaque charging structures and shoddy deals for staff.

To make sure you’re getting a fair deal from your agency, and that the workers you’re employing are getting a fair deal too, there are some key questions to ask a temp agency.

  1. What’s the deal for my staff?

Happy staff mean bigger profits; it’s as simple as that. Contented workers work harder and are more productive. Do you know if your temps are getting a deal they’re happy with? Because if they’re not, it’s your bottom line that’s going to suffer. Many staffing agencies aren’t transparent about fees and make holiday pay deliberately difficult to claim for. And it might be difficult to work out from your quote exactly what your temp is taking home at the end of the day because agencies will use charge rates (the all-in cost to them) instead of an actual wage figure.

So if you want to know that the people you’re employing are getting a fair deal, you’ll have to ask. If you have a minimum rate of pay you want your temps to get, you’ll need to find out the figure your temp agency is actually paying the staff. It might be lower than you think! And ask for their policy on holiday pay – you may have to dig deeper as your consultant may well not know the answer.

  1. How do you work out your fees?

Have you ever stared at the bill from your temping agency and tried to work out if it tallies with the hours the staff actually worked and the charge rates you were quoted? Convoluted staffing bills are common because it’s one of the ways unscrupulous agencies squeeze out a little extra profit from you, adding in admin fees, contract fees and other mysterious figures that weren’t mentioned when they originally offered to sort your staffing headache.

If you want transparency (and who doesn’t!), then ask for these costs to be included in the charge rates you’re quoted. This way there’ll be no nasty surprises and head-scratching over the invoice.

  1. What’s going on with NI?

National Insurance is one of those murky areas where some employment agencies fiddle the numbers to boost their profits. 13.8% is the going rate for employer’s national insurance for most workers found through agencies, but this only applies on earnings above £156 per week. The actual rate that agencies pay HMRC is often nearer 5-10%, especially for part-time workers. The bottom line is, if you’re being quoted 13.8% then alarm bells should be ringing. Check the HMRC website for details.

  1. What are your temp to perm fees?

Your agency sends you a great temp. (That should be the agency’s goal overall, right?) They fit in well and do the job efficiently. And not surprisingly you want to employ this person on a permanent basis. So it might come as a bit of a shock to then be hit with a hefty temp to perm fee. You’ve probably come across temp to perm fees of between £1000 and £3000 per staff member, even for entry-level roles. This is extremely high, and something to beware of when you’re approaching agencies for staff.

It’s worth remembering a fact that some temp agencies would like you to forget; you can legally convert staff from temp to perm after a certain period of time once an assignment has ended. The UK Conduct of Employment Agencies Regulations 2003 stipulates 14 weeks after the start of an assignment or 8 weeks after it has ended. Check the government information for businesses for more information.

  1. How quickly can staff be here?

Traditional staffing agencies tend to work office hours, which isn’t much use when you’re trying to cover a staffing emergency in the evening. Always get information on how quickly an agency can fill positions, and when they’ll be available to talk with you on the phone.It’s worth clarifying how you’ll know who is turning up and when – they will arrive. Some agencies will leave you in the dark about who they’re actually sending and how suitable they are.

Is there an alternative to this way temp agencies work for employers? Yes, Catapult has developed a way to do things differently

Traditional staffing and temp agencies have worked in pretty much the same way for years. Know what questions to ask and you can hopefully navigate their murky systems and anticipate those hidden costs. But there is an alternative to all this second-guessing and stress. Catapult is a digital staffing platform that connects you directly to your temps, cutting out that agency headache altogether.

We have no hidden fees – it’s just 10% of hours worked, every time. Wages are transparent, and because you identify the right people for you by filtering your matches based on skills and experience, there’s no hit-and-miss when it comes to who turns up. Booking is fast and easy, and you can do it any hour of the day or night.

So, a question for you – when will you try Catapult?

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