Seven out of 10 employers believe their business will be damaged if the
draft EU Agency Workers Directive is implemented in its current form.
A major survey of almost 1,000 UK organisations by Personnel Today and
Manpower reveals that 71 per cent are concerned the directive will have a
negative impact on their company.
Its release coincided with key discussions in Europe that will shape the
final content of the draft directive. The directive seeks to give temporary
workers the right to the same pay and conditions as permanent employees after
just six weeks of employment.
The research also shows 79 per cent of employers think the directive would
increase their staffing costs and 73 per cent predict it would lead to more red
Ruth Hounslow, public affairs manager for Manpower, said the survey
highlights employers’ serious concerns about the directive, which could be
adopted by the EU as early as this time next year.
"As drafted, this directive will have a significant negative impact on
the UK. Employers will be deterred from using a flexible workforce because it
will no longer be nearly as convenient to take on agency workers," she
Furthermore, almost half of respondents predict the directive would damage
the competitiveness of the UK’s economy, and a majority said they would reduce
the number of temps they use.
Mike Young, HR director at telecoms group Avaya – which employs agency staff
in a number of key technology roles – has no doubt that in its current form,
the directive will make employers less likely to use temporary workers.
"The directive will put up costs and take away flexibility. It will
make it unattractive to use temps and we would have to become much more
selective about hiring them," he said.
David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy for the Engineering
Employers Federation, said the survey shows the qualification period must be
"This reinforces our view that the six-week period for temporary staff
to qualify for equal rights is completely unacceptable and should be increased
to 12 months," he said.
Marcia Roberts, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s director of
external relations, 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."
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 EC seems to
think," said Roberts.
The European Parliament’s employment and social affairs committee was due to
consider the existing draft last month, and is set to make a decision on its
The directive will then be considered by the Council of Ministers, where the
UK’s opposition is likely to be supported by Germany. The council and the
European Parliament will come to a ‘common position’ before it returns to the
parliament for its second and final reading. The directive is expected to be
adopted by as early as next September, and could be law in European countries
18 months later.
Along with Germany and the UK, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden also oppose the