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Robotic Doctors join Daisy Hill Hospital teamAugust 2012

A Northern Ireland Health Trust is the first in the UK to use an innovatiove robotic doctor which allows intensive care specialists from one hospital to remotely assess patients in another.

The 'telepresence' robot, which has been installed in the DaisyHill Hospital, enables doctors to examine and interact with patients in different locations without the costs and time associated with travelling between hospital locations.

Source: BBC

How the AWD has affected NI businessMarch 2012

Now the dust has settled and we have hit the three month milestone after the Agency Worker Directive (AWD) became active in Northern Ireland, we ask Matt Tanner, Recruitment Manager at Kennedy Recruitment, about the impact of the legislation on NI business.

What do you believe the impact of the AWD has been on business?

After the Initial concerns, the impact doesn’t appear to be as severe as first anticipated and therefore the overall effect for the majority of businesses has been fairly minimal.

However, from an agency point of view, the legislation has had a significant effect. It has increased our levels of accountability and we need to ensure that all of our paperwork is in order at the start of the contract such as what benefits are available to the temporary worker from day one and then after 12 weeks.  

Agencies now must obtain crucial information from our clients in order to determine what the pay rates will be once the 12 weeks continuous employment has been met.

Although this doesn’t appear on the surface to be a particular issue, frequently the employer will need advice as they do not have a definitive answer on the post 12 week pay rate if the role is unique within the organisation.

Do businesses understand how the AWD affects them or is there confusion?

I still believe there is a significant level of misunderstanding both from Clients and Workers as to how the new legislation affects them.  The main changes are around the 12 week qualifying period and also the fact that 2 different types of contract can be operated – Pay Parity Contract & Regulation 10 Contract  (also known as a Swedish Derogation contract). This can be very confusing indeed for Temporary Workers and organisations alike, as they are often unable to determine the length of time they will need a temporary worker for.

What do you believe Government should be doing to support agencies and businesses?

On a personal note, I believe that the Government should undertake a full review of the AWR implementation sooner rather than later, to fully understand how it's affecting business owners.  The review is currently scheduled to take place in 2013, but I believe this should be undertaken this year. Indeed October 2012 would be an ideal time, as the legislation will have been active in England, Scotland and Wales for 12 months, giving a fair overview of what is working and what is not.