HR anger over temp rights from first day

HR
professionals have reacted angrily to an amendment to the draft EU Agency
Workers Directive that gives temporary workers the same rights as permanent
staff from day one.

Organisations
in the UK could suffer increased red tape and staffing costs due to the changes
implemented by the European Parliament’s employment and social affairs
committee last week, claim employer bodies.

Group
HR director of building services firm Lorne Stewart, Mike Taylor, said the
amendment would lead to higher staffing costs and less temp jobs. "The
removal of the qualification period is the worst thing that could have
happened," he said.

The
CBI estimates it would lead to employers cutting up to 300,000 temporary worker
roles.

The
directive could also threaten the competitiveness of UK plc, said David
Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the Engineering Employers
Federation. "This confirms our worst fears," he said.

"Unless
significantly amended, this directive will increase employers’ costs and
undermine the UK’s flexible labour market."

Under
the directive, temps will have the right to the same terms and conditions as
permanent staff from the first day of employment, rather than after six weeks
as proposed in the original draft.

Employer
bodies and the Government have been lobbying Brussels to have the qualification
period extended to at least a year.

The
draft directive will face opposition from the UK and Germany when it goes to
the European Parliament in November, and then on to the Council of Ministers
next year.

But
the director of external relations of the Recruitment and Employment
Confederation Marcia Roberts warned: "The Government will have an uphill
fight."

Ieke
van den Burg, the MEP behind the directive, told Personnel Today: "We introduced
the six week qualifying period as a transitional measure to help the UK
prepare, but, to my disappointment, it has now completely disappeared from the
directive."

By
Mike Broad

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