Directive unlikely to alter agency workers’ right to equality after 12 weeks

In this clip Philip Titchmarsh, partner at Pinsent Masons, says the prospect of paying agency staff sick pay and pension contributions will concern employers but it will not stop them hiring agency staff.

UK agency workers will still qualify for equal treatment after 12 weeks of employment, despite an EU directive going through the European Council on Monday (9 June) pressing for equality from day one.

Members of the European Council will meet in Brussels on Monday to attempt to reach a political agreement on the agency workers directive. The UK had previously blocked attempts for the EU law to apply in the UK.

The text of the EU Agency Workers Directive will push for agency and temporary workers to get the same rights as permanent employees from day one of employment.

But last month, trade union body the TUC, business group the CBI and the government reached an agreement that those equal rights would apply from 12 weeks of employment – which will be used as a derogation to exempt the UK from the ‘day one’ default.

While this signifies a major win for the government, which faced an uphill struggle in agreeing the 12-week terms, David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at manufacturing body EEF, warned the wording in the text is still not sufficiently spelt out.

“The terms and conditions on which equality will have to apply do not, as the [TUC/ CBI] joint declaration implies, exclude occupational pensions and sick pay,” he told Personnel Today. “It leaves uncertain what is meant by ‘pay’, which exposes employers to challenges about whether sick pay is included in pay.”

Yeandle said it was “highly likely” that the EU directive on agency workers would be agreed on Monday. “It’s less likely that it will be unpicked by European Parliament,” he added.

The Eurpoean Council will also discuss the EU Working Time Directive today. Click here to find out more.

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