The problem with the EC’s draft directive on temporary workers is that it
tries to achieve fair treatment of temporary staff at the expense of employers
and employment agencies. Legislation on temps will only work if it strikes a
balance between protecting the terms and conditions of temporary employees
while allowing employers to take advantage of flexible working. The current
draft is a big step in the wrong direction.
The six-week period as qualification before temps receive the same terms and
conditions of permanent staff is far too short. There will be huge practical
difficulties in establishing equivalent permanent employees to set pay and benefits
for temps. And if employers are legally forced to offer pensions to temps, it
will be an administrative nightmare.
There seems to be no justification for the EC to push through this
directive. The mutually beneficial arrangement between temp agencies and
employers in the UK does not give UK firms an unfair competitive advantage over
continental companies. And as temps do not move across borders, there is no
need for common rules. There are internationally mobile temporary workers, such
as interim executives, but they are often on higher pay than their peers on
The worst thing about the draft directive is it fails to understand the
changes taking place in the world of work. With flexible working increasing, it
is important that governments and all stakeholders find a way of protecting the
pay and pensions of temps – but not in a way that will undermine temporary
working in the first place.
Above all, the draft directive will stop HR professionals being able to use
resources strategically, and the last thing they need is the distraction of a
lot of new red tape.
Organisations will be the ultimate losers as their HR teams spend more time
trying to understand the law rather than thinking about how to improve the
By Noel O’Reilly