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EU legislation planned to boost the standing of temps

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The Financial Times reports on a leaked draft document from the EU which sets out plans to give temps the same rights as permanent employees to pensions, pay, time off, any health insurance plans and a range of other benefits. The UK has already agreed to give fixed term employees equal rights to pay and pensions.

A much larger proportion of the UK’s workforce is employed through agencies than in other countries in Europe, so it’s likely that legislative changes in this area would make more of an impact on employment patterns. This also means that no other country would be likely to side with the UK against the legislation.

This legislation would place much of the responsbility and administration on the client company where an employee actually works rather than on the agency, greatly reducing the incentive for usng an agency at all.

The CIPD has stated that this move would damage the UK’s labour market flexibility. “Agency workers allow employers to rapidly meet changes in business demands and staffing crises. Also, temping is a useful route into work for the unemployed and young people, and provides versatile employment for people who do not want to tie themselves to a permanent job. The EU proposals are wholly inappropriate for the UK. They will restrict flexibility without significant benefit to anybody”, said CIPD Employee Relations Adviser Diane Sinclair. “The UK Government must stand firm and resist proposals in Europe for the directive to have a wide scope. It must insist on a practical approach that protects flexibility for workers and employers.”

The TUC was positive about the plans. General Secretary John Monks said: “The TUC welcomes any proposals that grant new rights to temporary agency workers to ensure that they are equally treated compared with those doing the same job. Temporary workers in the UK not only face substantial job insecurity but they also often receive far less favourable treatment than those they work alongside. Lack of access to training results in lower skills while lower pay damages the motivation and inevitably leads to lower productivity. Unequal treatment for temporary workers is as bad for business as it is unfair to workers themselves.”

Digby Jones, director-general of the CBI, has written to Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, and all other commissioners, calling on the EU to reconsider its plans. He denounced the “socialist, political dogma” of Brussels, claiming businesses, agencies and workers themselves would all lose out at a massive cost to the UK economy. The CBI pointed out that the Government had already acted to give fixed part-time employees extra pay and pension rights. Mr Jones said: “I would prefer it if this directive never saw the light of day.”

One Response

  1. Temporary Agency Workers

    The controversy that surrounds the draft directive on temporary agency workers largely arises from euro-phobia and a lack of knowledge about negotiating history in this field. Members of FedEE have long known about a compromise position worked out between UNI-Europa and the international confederation of temporary work businesses Euro-CIETT last October. Nothing of any significance so far revealed in the leaked draft would appear to lie outside the terms laid down in that accord.

    Secretary-General
    The Federation of European Employers

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