According to a survey of employers undertaken by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, four in ten employers would not hire temporary workers if the controversial EU agency workers directive is approved.
In the proposals being put forward, temporary staff including agency workers will be entitled to the same pay and conditions as their permanent colleagues.
The implication of this for employers is that they will have to draw up individual contracts or pay scales for every temporary worker, engaged for more than six weeks and make these available to employment agencies.
One of the fundamental concerns with this is that in discussing confidential information about employee’s salaries, employers may be accountable for a breach of contract. However, the Directive does not clarify whether the six week qualification period has to be served continuously or can be accumulated.
Under the directive, agencies will become the temps employer. Temps with a years continuous service with an agency will be protected from unfair dismissal and qualify for a number of employee only rights, including maternity leave.
David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy for the Engineers Employers Federation, wants the qualification period extended to 18 months, while John Cridland, Deputy director-general for the CBI claimed that although the directive is intended to protect temps, “in reality it will undermine opportunities for people who want to do temporary work”.
The CIPD is also opposed to the proposed changes and believes it will make it more expensive and bureaucratic to employ temporary staff.
However, MEP Ieke van den Burg wants to remove the qualifying period altogether. He contends, “Since the vast majority of temporary placements are for weeks rather than months, the core group would be excluded. This is illogical and unacceptable”.
For the TUC, general secretary, John Monk suggested that although employers might complain, short-term savings don’t always make long-term sense. “Too many businesses are using the lack of protection for agency workers to keep permanent parts of their business going with agency workers on worse terms and conditions”.