The Conservatives have called for the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 to be revoked.
Leader David Cameron and five other Tory MPs have signed an early day motion asking for the regulations – due to come into force in October 2011 – to be debated once more in the House of Commons.The legislation, derived from the EU Agency Workers Directive (AWD), will give temporary workers the same rights as permanent staff, including pay, after just 12 weeks in a job.
It has aroused controversy among UK business groups which are concerned that the law will damage the temping industry, removing the flexiblity needed to hire staff to meet peaks and troughs in demand.
Employers’s groups, including the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, have also argued that the directive would be hard to implement because of difficulty in defining temporary workers’ roles or comparing them with those of permanent employees.
Mark Hammerton, partner at law firm Eversheds, said the regulations could be amended to clarify what is meant by the “pay” which should be provided to the agency worker when comparing them to a permanent employee.
“[Pay] has been one of the most contentious aspects of the consultation process so far and employers and recruiters will be hoping that any change of government can be persuaded that so called “gold plating” can be removed,” he said.
However, Hammerton warned that the Conservatives would have little power to amend or revoke the legislation – and urged employers to continue preparing for the AWD’s introduction.
“Although the Conservative Party has called for the regulations to be revoked, employers should not rely on a possible change of government to make compliance easier,” he said.
“The reality is that any Conservative government would have limited power to amend the regulations, let alone repeal them, given that they derive from EU legislation.
“A failure to implement the directive in full would lead to the EU taking enforcement action against the UK.”
The current government has delayed the introduction of the AWD until October 2011 as part of efforts to cut the cost of business regulation.