EU directive could spell disaster for UK contractors

EU
directive could spell disaster for UK
contractors

Suggestions
that the Government will support an EU directive giving temporary agency
workers the same pay and benefits as permanent staff from day one will make
contracting less attractive to workers and increase the cost of using
contractors, according to contractor specialist, Giant Group.

The
European Union last debated the Agency Workers Directive more than a year ago
when disagreement among member states blocked its progress into law. The Dutch
Government, however, is said to be trying to revive the legislation and push it
through during its six-month EU presidency, which began on 1 July.

The
UK Government is alleged to have given a commitment to the trade unions last
weekend that it will drop its opposition to the directive in exchange for their
support at the forthcoming general election.

Matthew
Brown, managing director, of Giant, said: "The whole point of contracting
is that you don’t want to be an employee but an independent business."

"People
choose to contract because they want the freedom to decide how to manage their
own affairs. They don’t want end-users being forced to provide them with the
same working and employment conditions, ranging from benefits such as pensions
to control over rest and holiday period, as permanent employees. This directive
will undermine that flexibility."

Trowers
& Hamlins law firm believes the directive could make contractors less
attractive to end-users because of the employment-related risks end-users may
be exposed to as a result.

Employment
partner, Emma Burrows said: "By giving temporary workers taken on through
agencies new employment rights, such as holiday and sick pay entitlements, the
number of areas in which employment-related claims could be brought by temps
against employers is likely to increase."

"Businesses
will have to tread carefully. If they get it wrong on equal treatment for temps
they could be taken to tribunal," she said. 

By Michael Millar

 

 

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