Government aims for temp compromise

The
UK Government will not allow the draft EU directive giving temporary workers
the same pay and benefits as permanent staff to become law in its current form.

Minister
for Work Nick Brown told Personnel Today that the controversial draft directive
– which currently calls for equal rights for temps after six weeks work with
the same employer – will be watered down.

Brown
said: “I’m a strong supporter of flexible labour markets and that doesn’t have
to mean low protection for the vulnerable. Flexibility in the labour market
enables more jobs to be created. I believe in the minimum wage and minimum
standards but it’s a safety net provision.”

Although
the Department of Trade and Industry is handling the Government’s response to
the draft directive, Brown explained there had been cross-departmental
discussions and the Government is confident that Brussels will compromise.

“The
UK experience is different to the continental one and sometimes when these
things are being discussed in the EU everyone comes at it from their own
national perspective,” he said.

Research
by Personnel Today shows that most employers would change their use of temps in
their staffing strategies if the controversial draft directive became law.

Over
80 per cent of HR professionals would use fewer temps if it was passed in its
current shape, according to News Barometer. The UK currently has one million
temps available for work each day.

What
the directive will mean to HR


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


Employers would have to negotiate separate contracts with agencies for temps
who work longer than six weeks


The directive could cause confidentiality and breach of contract problems with
employers having to inform third parties about staff salaries


The draft directive could be implemented by the start of 2003

By Ross Wigham

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