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250,000 temp placements ‘jeopardised’

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling on the government to stand firm against renewed EU and union pressure to resurrect a draft directive affecting up to 250,000 temporary workers.

EU governments are meeting this week to discuss proposals on the draft Agency Workers Directive that would put temporary workers on an equal footing with permanent staff after just six weeks on an assignment.

The CBI argues this would heavily reduce the benefits of flexibility that such workers offer to firms, undermining the incentive to employ them.

Its annual employment trends survey, carried out with recruitment specialists Pertemps, showed that 58 per cent of workers said if the directive became law it would lead to a ‘significant’ cut in the use of temporary workers, putting 250,000 placements at serious risk.

“This important section of the workforce has an uncertain future if the government caves into pressure for a new EU law,” said CBI deputy-director general John Cridland. “Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be put at risk unless Gordon Brown rejects outright or at least insists on a qualifying period of a year before full employment rights apply to a temporary post.

“As proposed, the directive would seriously undermine the flexibility that temps offer to firms, hurting the economy and making them far more likely to rely on overtime flexibility from existing workers instead.”

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Annie Hayes

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