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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Tesco temp agencies ask workers to waive EU employment rights

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Thousands of temps working for Tesco have been asked to sign contracts waiving their new employment rights under the Agency Worker Regulations in a scenario that is becoming increasingly widespread across the UK.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, many of the recruitment agencies for the country’s largest supermarket chain have introduced a get-out clause, which enables them to effectively ignore the new legislation. The Regulations, which came into force on 1 October this year, provide the UK’s 1.4 million agency personnel with the same pay and benefits as permanent staff after they have worked in a job for 12 weeks.
 
Under the opt-out mechanism, which is known as a ‘derogation’ model, however, employers can ask recruiters to hire temps directly, which means they are no longer subject to the new legislation. Derogation is perfectly legal and is thought to be widespread across some industries.
 
Tesco is reported to have met with Mainstream, a major supplier of agency truck drivers in Kent, several times in the last eight weeks to discuss the new law, for example. Mainstream subsequently sent a letter to its drivers last month asking them to sign a contract waiving their rights, while indicating that other local employers were also using the loophole.
 
The letter said: “We have been in discussion with our clients and it is clear that the majority would like us to apply an exemption allowed under the legislation.”
 
The 400 drivers involved were said to be “shocked” that the UK’s largest private sector employer had allowed its recruitment agencies to go down this route. They would have enjoyed an extra £150 per week in their pay packets, but have now all signed the contracts.
 
Tesco said that derogation was a “recognised” approach by the British Retail Consortium, employers lobby group the CBI and the Coalition Government.
 
A spokesman added: “This is not a Tesco initiative or a Tesco direction, and no agency workers are being asked by Tesco to sign new contracts. The derogation is being used very widely across the economy by the agencies as a way of ensuring that agency work remains competitive and flexible.”
 
Mainstream was unavailable for comment.
 
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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