Today, an important debate is taking place in Brussels that will determine
the content of the controversial Agency Workers Directive. If the draft
directive is not amended over the next two weeks and moves towards adoption
intact, the performance of many UK businesses will be under threat.
Our ground-breaking joint research with Manpower shows that seven out of 10
employers believe the directive in its current form would have a negative
impact on their performance. Temps would be given the right to the same pay and
benefits as permanent staff after working for an employer for only six weeks.
The draft directive has a laudable aim – to protect the rights of temporary
workers. But it has ignored the unique characteristics of the UK labour market.
UK businesses use temps more widely than their European counterparts – as
many as 1 million temps are available for work each day in this country – and
they play a valued role in business performance.
In the UK, 68 per cent of temps are paid the same amount or more than
permanent staff, according to our research, which demonstrates that they are
not the poor relations the directive assumes.
Temps would suffer if the six-week qualification period are introduced. Most
employers claim it would increase business costs and red tape, leading to fewer
temps being taken on. As a result, one of the best pathways for people to work
flexibly and secure a permanent job would be severely reduced.
Not only would employers, recruitment agencies and temps suffer, so would UK
plc. If employers in this country have less flexibility to adapt to changes in
the business environment, it will be a lot less attractive for inward
Personnel Today urges its readers to make a difference and get this draft
directive changed. The qualification for equal rights with permanent staff
should only apply to long-term temps, such as those working for one employer
for a year or more.
You can submit your views to the Government’s consultation on the directive
on www.dti.gov.uk/er/agency/directive.htm – the consultation is due to close on
But for more direct action, Personnel Today has dug up the direct e-mail
address of Ieke van den Burg, the MEP responsible for steering the draft
directive through the European parliament. Why not send your views directly to
her at Ivandenburg@europarl.eu.int. She might begin to understand the damage
her directive could do in the UK.