New talks revive hope of EU deal on Agency Workers Directive

The controversial Agency Workers Directive is back on the agenda under the Portuguese presidency of the EU, which began on 1 July.

New employment relations minister Pat McFadden told a committee of MPs last week that the directive would be discussed “at an official level” in September. If talks are positive, the issue would then be put to the EU Council of Employment in December for a vote, he said.

The directive aims to give temporary workers the same pay and employment rights as permanent staff. Since its introduction in 2002, the directive has been subject to wrangling and numerous delays.

A main stumbling block has been the length of time before temps would gain full rights. Unions want this to be from day one of employment, while employers are pushing for as long as possible.

McFadden said: “The government believes there is a strong argument for equal treatment, but there are still a number of issues to be resolved.”

As part of the 2004 Warwick Agreement with unions, Labour pledged to introduce more rights for temporary workers.

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