There are occasions when the use of staff from recruitment agencies makes absolute sense in terms of workforce planning such as when someone is off on maternity leave or when additional workers are employed during the summer months. However where there are core council posts which exist year in and year out the use of such agency contracts is highly questionable. Those employed lack the same opportunities for advancement as council employees and when asked about pay and conditions of such staff Council has responded "In regard to those who do not qualify for equal pay and conditions, we do not hold this level of information, this responsibility lies with the appropriate agency." As we move forward into a new managerial scenario a full review of employment practices must be undertaken.
Responses to FOI request from Ballymena Borough Council
1: The number of agency workers employed by Ballymena Borough Council as of the 1 April in each of the last 5 years.
Ballymena Borough Council do not “employ” agency workers. The numbers of agency workers in placement with Council for the past 5 years would not be readily available, however these numbers could be reliably collated for the past 2 years. We can advise that the total headcount at April 2013 was 175 and for April 2014 this was 155. Headcount covers all temporary full-time, part-time and casual agency workers.
2: The number of current agency workers employed by Ballymena Borough Council and the length of time they have been employed in their current role.
As in the answer to question 1 above, Council do not “employ” agency workers, however we can reliably collate the current number of agency workers placed within Council to be 184. The length of time that these agency workers have been placed with Council in their current roles is not information that Council holds – the agencies concerned hold this information. The nature of agency work is transient and agency workers are provided to Council from their Preferred Supplier List under a Contract of Services.
3. The number of current agency workers placed with Ballymena Borough Council who are employed by the agency and do not qualify for equal pay and conditions.
As in the answer to question 2 above we can reliably collate the current number of agency workers placed within Council to be 184. In regard to those who do not qualify for equal pay and conditions, we do not hold this level of information, this responsibility lies with the appropriate agency. To the best of our knowledge current agency workers qualify for equal pay and conditions as those in a comparable role from week 13 of placement.