Recent newspaper articles indicating that the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland are spending 36% more on agency staff than they do on permanent staff is very misleading and disingenuous to the brilliant service provided by many recruitment agencies working in the medical sector.
Let’s look at the facts on a level playing field !
1) Agencies charge a fee of typically between 5% and 15% of the gross hourly rate for the provision of short-term resource cover, typically replacing a member of permanent staff who is absent through illness, bereavement or annual leave. The agency fee covers items such as Administration, Indemnity Insurance, Holiday Pay, Bank Holiday Pay etc.. Employer PRSI, typically 10.75% of the Gross Salary is recharged at cost.
2) The agencies provide the medical resource cover at short notice and agree to rotate staff in order to always maintain minimum frontline cover at all times. Because of the high levels of sick leave among permanent staff and because of the public sector embargo on recruitment, the HSE has no other choice but to go the agency route and aren’t the public lucky to have recruitment agencies !
3) The great thing about agency workers is that you only pay for the hours worked – you do not have to pay for illness downtime or other miscellaneous absenteeism other than holiday pay. How much is the HSE spending every year on sick days, privilege days or compassionate leave days, all of which are legally at the discretion of the Employer and which essentially do not have to be paid at all ? – You don’t have any of that unnecessary cost with the agency worker !
Legislation dictates that the agency worker is under the direction and control of the user enterprise – in simple english, the agency worker must be properly managed by the end-user company, typically the hospital in this instance. Identification of the requirement for the resource is only the first step – the proper management and delivery of excellent service from the resource is the responsibility of management – you cannot blame the agencies in that department, unless of course, the management function were to be outsourced to the recruitment agencies – now wouldn’t that be an idea worth considering !