EU plans could put temps out of work

In Personnel Today’s last editorial leader on the draft EU agency directive,
we argued that the proposals were a step in the wrong direction. The EU now
seems be considering a giant leap – and its still in the wrong direction.

Employers’ objections to the draft directive are focused on the plan to give
all temps the right to equal pay and conditions with staff in equivalent roles
after only six weeks. The official in charge of the directive, MEP Ieke van den
Burg, is now demanding that temporary staff get equal pay from their first day
in employment.

Personnel Today’s News Barometer survey (News, page 2, 26 March) found that
93 per cent of respondents said the directive would create an additional burden
for HR. Now a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has shown
that the vast majority of temps are hired for six weeks or more. And four out
of 10 organisations would not hire temporary workers at all if the draft
directive proposals became law.

Employers who take their social responsibilities seriously will share the
concern that temporary workers’ rights should be protected. Employers realise,
however, that many temporary workers will be out of work altogether if the
directive is passed in its current form.

Administration is the problem – employers could be forced to provide
agencies with the contracts of permanent staff doing equivalent work, or
company pay scales, every time they take on a temp.

Before it is too late, the UK Government and employers’ groups need to lobby
hard to make sure that the six-week period is extended to a length that will
not damage the flexibility of the UK labour market.

As for the latest proposal to give temps equal pay and conditions from day
one – it is the kind of thing that gives the EU a bad name.

By Noel O’Reilly

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