EC directive needs broad interpretation

Agency Workers’ Directive will lead to problems for HR and in its current form
will do little to promote the role of temps in the workplace

Agency Workers’ Directive was published by the European Commission in March and
has received a lot of criticism from businesses across the UK. 

the EC has decided is that flexible working needs further regulation, despite
high levels of unemployment and great differences in temporary working across

Diamantopolou has chosen to ignore advice that the directive will threaten jobs
across Europe and disadvantage the very people it purports to help.

EC has adopted a patronising attitude towards the million temporary workers
that help to sustain the UK economy every day and suggests that temping work is
of lower quality than that performed by permanent staff.

standpoint obviously ignores the flexibility that temping brings, the demanding
skills it requires, the professionalism and qualifications temporary workers
have and the high demand and regard employers have for them, and the fact that
many temporary workers now prefer temping to a permanent position. 

why should employers and HR professionals be bothered? This is a problem for
agencies supplying temporary workers, isn’t it?

no. The Agency Workers’ Directive, as it currently stands, says that after 6
weeks, a temporary worker should not be discriminated against. Pay, for
example, should be equal between temporary workers and a comparable permanent
worker undertaking the same work. This will lead to huge problems for HR

whom you compare the temporary worker to is problematic in the first instance.
It is also difficult to consider what constitutes pay. How do you divide the
annual salary of a permanent worker down into an hourly or weekly rate for a
temporary member of staff? Do you include pension, healthcare or other

what value does it suggest is inherent in a permanent contract It will be a
bureaucratic nightmare for employers and create a lot of discontent among
permanent workers. Also, private companies that do not have pay scales but
negotiate individual salaries might be subject to breach of contract claims if
they divulge them to a third party.

all pre-supposes the fact that unequal pay between temporary and permanent work
is consistent across employment. What in reality happens is that supply and
demand dictates the pay of temporary workers. In many industries, temporary
workers are already paid equally if not more, but in return have less job
security – it is a trade off that most temporary workers understand and embrace
because they rarely have long periods without work. In industries where
temporary workers are in high demand, and therefore are paid more, why
shouldn’t the permanent employee be paid the same as the temporary worker? This
is going to be a legal minefield.

are still hoping that sense will prevail. Temporary workers have gained more
rights in recent years, and rightly so. Commissioner Diamantopolou’s proposals
are not even wholly supported within the commission, never mind within the
Parliament and Council of Ministers, which have equal say on this matter. But
European negotiation is a strange beast and it is likely that some further form
of regulation will emerge out the other end. 

Government has been supportive of the Recruitment and Employment
Confederation’s, the CIPD’s and the CBI’s stance on this directive. The
Government, like us, wants to ensure that temporary workers are protected and
valued, but not over-regulated to the extent that it damages UK productivity
and competitiveness. There are also signs the Commission will enable a fairly
broad interpret-ation of the rules at a national level, which can only be a
sensible way forward, given the different ways temporary working is structured
in the UK.

Marcia Roberts, director of external relations of the Recruitment and
Employment Confederation

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