Agency worker directive would hit job market for temps

The draft
EU Agency Workers Directive would trigger a huge cut in job opportunities for
temporary workers in the UK, according to a new study.

As drafted
the directive would give agency staff the right to the same employment
conditions as permanent staff from day one of employment and the same pay after
a six-week qualification period.

A
CBI-Pertemps survey of more than 400 firms shows that the draft directive would
significantly reduce temping opportunities – 47 per cent of respondents would
cut use of agency temps, shutting off a vital route into work increase costs
and reduce competitiveness.

Nearly half
of those surveyed said the directive’s six-week qualification period was
“totally inadequate."

Digby
Jones, CBI director-general, has expressed concern about the findings in a
letter to the EU Commissioner responsible for the directive Anna
Diamantopoulou.

He called
for "a substantially longer and permanent period" of ideally one year
before the legislation kicks in.  He
points out that the law will hit the UK hardest because Britain has the largest
temping market in Europe, employing over 700,000 people.

EU
employment ministers gather in Luxembourg today (Monday, June 2) and tomorrow
to try and reach political agreement on the legislation.

The UK
negotiating team, led by the DTI’s Alan Johnson, is backing the CBI
position.  Other countries are also
likely to criticise the directive including Germany, Denmark and Ireland.

Digby Jones
said:  "It is unnecessary and wrong
to drag firms into negotiations over pay and conditions when hiring people from
an agency for short periods.

That should
remain a matter for the agency and worker. Saying the law would kick in after
six weeks is a totally inadequate response that only pays lip service

to our
concerns.

"Without
improvements, taking on temps will be less attractive and that will do
irreparable damage, not just to business but to employees as well.  The UK has a strong record on creating jobs,
particularly for those on the fringes of the labour market. This success story
could be seriously undermined."

By Ben
Willmott

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