EU temps directive is unworkable says HR

HR professionals believe the draft EU directive giving temporary workers the
same pay and benefits as permanent staff is completely unworkable and will
increase business costs.

The directive was published last week and will mean temporary workers will
be entitled to equal pensions and other benefits once they have been employed
for a period of six weeks. It could become law in early 2003.

Laurie Hibbs, HR consultant at Capital One, believes the draft directive
will lead to a massive increase in red tape for HR and a rise in costs to
employers if it is introduced in its current form.

He said: "It will be an administrative nightmare and will put an
additional burden on over-legislated HR and payroll departments since every
temp would have to be frequently enrolled and removed from benefits providers.

"Temps want to be able to earn a cash sum and have the flexibility to
change jobs – by enforcing these conditions it will cost both the company and
the temp."

The directive will now go to the Council of Ministers and the European
Parliament where it could be amended before it becomes law.

Martin Hinchliffe, HR director at Welcome Break, would like to see the
six-week qualification period extended to at least three months before
temporary workers are eligible for the same pay and benefits.

He said: "I think the period of qualification is too short. I would be
happier if this was doubled."

The CIPD believes the directive could force HR departments to draw up sets
of pay and conditions for every temp employed beyond six weeks.

"It’s going to be a very bureaucratic process given that agency staff
are brought in as a quick response to deal with short-term staffing
problems," said CIPD employee relations adviser Diane Sinclair.

By Ross Wigham

The details that HR has to know

– Temporary
staff will be entitled to the same pay and conditions as comparable permanent

– It will apply to all temps working at a firm for more than
six weeks

– Qualifications and skills will be taken into account

– Employers will have to negotiate separate sets of pay and
benefits with agencies for every temporary staffer working for more than six

– The draft will go to the Council of Ministers and the European
Parliament and could be amended before becoming law

– Experts estimate the directive could be introduced as early
as the beginning of next year

– The UK  has 1 million
temps available for work each day


Bob Edwards, HR manager at Bristol

"I think it is the paperwork rather than the principle
that is the problem. I don’t have any objections to paying agency staff the
same as permanent staff but I do have concerns about giving them the same terms
and conditions because I think it will be very difficult to do that."

Mark Hocken, resourcing manager
for Merchants Ltd

"The new directive will create a necessity for our
business to increase our administration workforce, this at the moment lies
heavily with the employment agencies. The main impact on our business will be
an increase in our overhead costs, which will inevitably make our service more
expensive to prospective clients."

Mike Young, HR director at
telecoms firm Avaya

"I think it will have a big impact on us as we employ a
large number of temporary workers. This will add to the cost and red tape which
takes away the whole point of using flexible labour. It’s meant to be flexible
and short term."

Mike Taylor, group HR director at
Lorne Stewart

"This will force some employers to play musical chairs by
changing temps every four or five weeks. This will not benefit employers,
temporary workers or UK plcs. It is another ludicrous piece of EU legislation."

Laurie Hibbs, HR consultant for
financial firm Capital One

"While all employees should expect a minimum standard of
treatment, the proposals are actually highly counter productive and divisive
since they threaten the very thing that temporary staff value most –
flexibility. The directive is well meaning, but ill-conceived and burdensome."

James Reed, CEO of Reed
Recruitment Group

"The UK’s temporary workforce includes experts who are
paid high rates. The flexibility this offers has played a huge part in the fact
that the UK has enjoyed lower unemployment than Europe."

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