Business leaders issued a strong warning today that threatened EU regulation would slash the chances of work and overtime for thousands of people in the UK.
They also said that the "dam had burst" on pensions as rising costs trigger an acceleration in the number of employers moving away from final salary schemes.
The warnings come in a wide-ranging annual assessment of trends in the world of work, published by the CBI with employment agency Pertemps.
The report shows:
- 45 per cent of employers would offer fewer temporary work assignments under the Temporary Workers Directive
- 59 per cent of employers said the directive would impose extra costs making temporary workers less affordable, removing a vital flexibility for employers and denying a crucial route into work to the unemployed, ex-offenders or working mothers.
- Proposals to remove the right to opt-out of the Working Time Directive would cost thousands the choice to do overtime. Thirty-nine per cent of employers said losing the opt-out would have a serious impact on their business. Only 27 per cent said it would have no impact.
- 19 per cent of all employees regularly used the individual opt out. In the smallest companies 24 per cent regularly used it. Removing this right would take away their opportunity to earn extra and damage companies' competitiveness.
Pertemps chairman Tim Watts, said: "Many people choose flexible working arrangements because it suits their lifestyle. The UK's flexible labour market creates many more employment opportunities. That is why more women and traditionally under-involved groups are in work in the UK than in most other European countries. Squeezing these people out of the world of work would be bad for them and bad for the economy."
The report also shows firms increasingly being priced out of final salary pensions. Almost half the employers with a final salary pension scheme last year closed it, usually to new entrants. In 2002 a quarter had closed their schemes. This year, 27 per cent of firms were offering a final salary scheme compared with 43 per cent a year ago.
The CBI stressed that employers are still committed to pensions despite the di