Employers fret over agency workers proposals

Concern
is growing among employer groups that government negotiators are about to give
ground over the controversial Agency Workers Directive.

The
directive, which will give temporary workers comparable pay and conditions to
permanent staff, is currently being debated in Europe.

The
proposed draft, currently with the European Council of Ministers, would give
temps the same conditions from day one and comparable pay after six weeks.

However,
UK employers are worried that government officials may give way to pressure
from other European countries and reduce the pay threshold to day one.

David
Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy the Engineering Employers’
Federation (EEF), urged the Government to hold firm.

“We
know there are negotiations going on, but now is not the time to be making
concessions. There’s still a long way to go and they should be taking a strong
line,” he said.

The
EEF wants the comparable pay to come after 12 months, although it’s believed
that the DTI is considering suggesting between three and six months.

A
ruling will be made by the Council of Ministers in June before the draft goes
back to the European Parliament for ratification.

Yeandle
said this process could also be fraught with argument and predicted further
horse trading between the two bodies.

“There
will have to be some compromise between the Council of Ministers and the
European Parliament to get this through,” he added.

By Ross Wigham

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