There has been a mixed reaction to the European Commission’s decision to scrap or reconsider a number of pieces of EU legislation, including controversial proposals about temporary workers’ rights.
Employers have welcomed the move, but union leaders said the decision is a major setback for temps across Europe.
Gunter Verheugen, European commissioner for enterprise and industry, yesterday published a list of 68 draft EU regulations to be scrapped or reworked.
The aim of the cull is to ensure that the EU’s legislation is more tightly focused on competitiveness.
The main piece of affected legislation that will concern employers is the Temporary Agency Workers Directive.
In its current form the legislation proposes that temps should get equal rights to permanent employees after six weeks – a suggestion that employers are opposed to, across the board.
EEF, the manufacturers organisation, welcomed the announcement, saying the directive, as it stands, presents a “serious threat to the flexibility of the UK labour market”.
EEF director-general, Martin Temple, said: “At long last the European Commission seems to be waking up to the fact that many of the regulations it has already introduced, as well as a number in the pipeline, were only serving to drown European business in a sea of red tape and bureaucracy.
“Britain’s manufacturers will hope this is a small start on the road to a culture within the commission which places competitiveness of the European economy at the heart of its decision making.”
But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The announcement is a major setback for temps across Europe. For four years the agency workers directive has been blocked by various governments including our own and now it is destined to sit on a Brussels shelf for many more years to come. Agency workers deserve a better deal.
“Today’s announcement gives a green light to those unscrupulous employers who will continue to exploit agency workers.”Some controversial employment regulations will not be scrapped or reworked – notably the services directive that has led to fears of a flood of low-cost workers entering the EU.”