The TUC is urging European ministers to back the European Parliament and give agency workers the same rights to pay, holidays and maternity rights as their permanent colleagues from the first day they are placed by an agency.
This Thursday, the EU Employment and Social Affairs Committee meets in Brussels to consider the draft Temporary Agency Workers Directive. The TUC wants the committee to stand firm against pressure from the UK, Irish, Danish and German governments, who are keen to see longer qualifying periods imposed.
TUC general secretary elect Brendan Barber said: "Introducing a qualifying period for equal treatment rights would drive a coach and horses through the new protections for agency workers.
"Agency work is by its very nature temporary, and many of the UK’s most vulnerable, low paid workers would lose out if they had to wait several months before any rights kicked in. Any delay would provide bad employers with an open invitation to avoid the new rights by simply employing temps for shorter periods.
"It is a common misconception that most temps are well-paid office workers, more commonly agency workers are low paid, low-skilled workers employed in catering, hotels and factories. The increased use of agency workers - particularly in schools and care homes - is leading to lower quality public services."