The draft EU Agency Workers Directive would trigger a huge cut in job opportunities for temporary workers in the UK, according to a new study.
As drafted the directive would give agency staff the right to the same employment conditions as permanent staff from day one of employment and the same pay after a six-week qualification period.
A CBI-Pertemps survey of more than 400 firms shows that the draft directive would significantly reduce temping opportunities - 47 per cent of respondents would cut use of agency temps, shutting off a vital route into work increase costs and reduce competitiveness.
Nearly half of those surveyed said the directive’s six-week qualification period was “totally inadequate."
Digby Jones, CBI director-general, has expressed concern about the findings in a letter to the EU Commissioner responsible for the directive Anna Diamantopoulou.
He called for "a substantially longer and permanent period" of ideally one year before the legislation kicks in. He points out that the law will hit the UK hardest because Britain has the largest temping market in Europe, employing over 700,000 people.
EU employment ministers gather in Luxembourg today (Monday, June 2) and tomorrow to try and reach political agreement on the legislation.
The UK negotiating team, led by the DTI's Alan Johnson, is backing the CBI position. Other countries are also likely to criticise the directive including Germany, Denmark and Ireland.
Digby Jones said: "It is unnecessary and wrong to drag firms into negotiations over pay and conditions when hiring people from an agency for short periods.
That should remain a matter for the agency and worker. Saying the law would kick in after six weeks is a totally inadequate response that only pays lip service
to our concerns.