Temp jobs at risk if raw directive gets OK

EU directive could damage temporary and permanent market in UK. Personnel
Today’s news team reports

The majority of employers would be forced to reduce the number of temporary
workers they employ if the agency workers directive is introduced in its
current form.

Seven out of 10 businesses claim that extra costs and red tape will
discourage them from hiring agency workers if the directive forces them to
provide temps with the same pay and conditions as permanent staff after only
six weeks.

The research shows that, at present, more than half the respondents
typically hire agency staff for periods longer than six weeks.

Mike Young, HR director at telecom group Avaya, which employs agency staff
in a number of key technology roles, has no doubt that in its current form, it
will make employers less likely to use temporary workers.

"The directive will put up the cost and take away the flexibility. It
would make it unattractive to use temps and we would have to become much more
selective about hiring them," he said.

Deputy director of employment policy for the Engineering Employers
Federation (EEF) David Yeandle said the survey shows the qualification period
must be extended. "This reinforces our view that six weeks is completely
unacceptable and should be increased to 12 months," he said.

The survey reveals that almost 80 per cent of employers think the directive
would increase staffing costs, and 73 per cent predict it would add to business
red tape.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s director of external
relations Marcia Roberts, believes the agency workers directive as drafted
would undermine the reason for taking on temps.

"One of the biggest attractions of agency workers is that they are not
regulated in the same way as other staff. The more red tape surrounding their
contracts, the less incentive there is to take them on," she said.

The research also shows that most UK temps (68 per cent) already enjoy pay
at the same or higher rates than permanent employees. "The survey shows
that temporary staff in the UK are not as disadvantaged as the commission seems
to think," Roberts added.

"The directive as drafted will prove detrimental to work seekers,
hirers and the economy."

Public affairs manager for Manpower Ruth Hounslow hopes the findings will
demonstrate to the European Parliament that temporary workers are not treated
as second-class citizens in the UK.

"We hope this will help push the message that temporary work is not
somehow implicitly sub-standard. Temporary work is another model of
employment," she said.

Hounslow said many employers that use Manpower’s services are concerned the
directive will force them to disclose details on their rates of pay for
permanent staff that they would prefer to keep confidential.

More than 71 per cent of respondents predict their businesses would suffer
as a result of the proposed legislation. Nearly half think it will have the
knock-on effect of damaging the UK’s competitive position.

The EEF’s Yeandle is not surprised by these findings. He believes some
companies may hesitate to operate from the UK if the workforce becomes less

"This could mean that job opportunities in the UK would go elsewhere.
The UK may also become less attractive for inward investment," he said.


Key findings

Potential impact of agency workers directive:

71% predict it will damage their business

79% believe it will increase staffing costs

73% report it will lead to more red tape

68% already pay their temps the same or more than an equivalent permanent

68% would use fewer temporary staff

78% want the six-week qualification period extended

Source: Personnel Today/Manpower

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