The MEP driving the draft Agency Workers Directive claims the legislation
will promote greater workforce flexibility, and that UK employers are
misinterpreting its potential impact.
Ieke van den Burg, the socialist rapporteur, said: "I have been
surprised by the reaction in the UK – the effects of this directive have been
"Studies show that up to 70 per cent of the temps in the UK are paid
better than permanent staff. The directive states that temps should be treated
‘as favourably’, so this category of employer will have no problems."
She denied the directive would lead to excessive red tape. "This
directive is about basic pay and basic conditions, such as working time, rest
periods and holidays," she said. "I rejected an amendment to include
pension provision, for example."
Furthermore, the directive will not implement a one-size-fits-all approach.
"We will let discussions happen at the national level about the
considerations of pay and pay elements."
She said the draft is aimed at addressing poor practice. "It is about
tackling low-paid work, and preventing organisations from using temps as a
cheap labour reservoir," she said.
"The Agency Workers Directive will promote flexibility. I am a firm
believer that using temporary worker agencies can increase flexibility and
solve problems that you can’t with permanent staff."