TUC union calls for agency workers to have equal rights as permanent staff after survey reveals ‘abuse and bad treatment’ of temps

Trade unions have again called for agency workers to have equal rights to permanent employees after a survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction among temporary staff.

The YouGov poll of 2,500 agency workers showed that 56% did not have the same holiday rights as permanent staff, and 61% did not have the same sick pay rights. Half of agency workers said they had not had relevant training, while 46% said being a temp made it harder for them to make a complaint at work.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, which commissioned the report, said it revealed “abuse and bad treatment for a significant proportion of agency workers”. He called on the government to guarantee them equal rights to the permanent staff they work alongside.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of new super-union Unite, backed the call, adding that casual employment was on the increase.

However, industry body the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said introducing equal rights for agency workers would be counter-productive. Director of external relations Tom Hadley said the REC favoured enforcement of existing legislation, rather than new equal treatment regulations that would be difficult to implement and could affect the viability of the temp model in the UK.

Meanwhile, a landmark tribunal judgment ruled that a group of Polish workers should be considered employees of the agency they worked for.

The case, Kalwak and others v the Consistent Group, was brought when the workers were sacked by a food manufacturer in Cheshire. Agencies across the UK may now have to increase the employment rights of temporary staff they place.

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