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Law Will Heap Millions On Employment Costs

European temp rights law will heap millions on employment costs despite just 20% of UK temps being vulnerable workers

APSCo meeting with Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

The Government should exclude highly paid temporary workers from legislation to give temps additional rights because just 19.9% of all temps in the UK are vulnerable workers who need protection, says the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).[1][1]

Speaking to the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) in a recent meeting (29/01/09), APSCo pointed out that the Governments own figures show that less than one fifth of temporary workers in the UK are paid at or near the minimum wage and can therefore be considered vulnerable.

According to APSCo, if the Temporary Agency Workers Directive (TAWD) is implemented as it stands without excluding highly paid temps it could severely damage the flexibility of the UK labour market at a time when increases in employment costs could prolong recession.

The BERR told APSCo it would be initiating a two-stage consultation process on implementing the TAWD into UK law in the coming weeks.

APSCo says that leading proponents of the TAWD, including Andrew Miller MP, the sponsor of a Private Members Bill to give agency workers more rights, have given their assurances that legislation to enhance temps rights should be solely aimed at protecting vulnerable workers.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive, APSCo, comments: APSCo fully supports enhancing rights for vulnerable workers, but just 20% of temporary workers in the UK are at or near minimum wage level what most people would consider to be vulnerable.

This legislation couldnt come at a worse time. It will add to employment costs at a time when unemployment is skyrocketing and be hugely damaging to the UK labour market and risk prolonging the downturn. Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach and including professional temporary workers in this legislation would be a costly mistake.

We need clarification that the Government will include an opt-out for highly paid temporary workers. It is clear from our discussions that most supporters of this Directive did not intend for them to be included, so to do so almost by default would be an outcome that nobody wants.

She adds: This law has come from Europe, despite the reservations of the UK Government. I have been impressed at the way BERR has listened to our concerns and I am confident that the needs of the professional recruitment sector and the professionals it places will be recognised as different to those of vulnerable workers.

According to BERR, the consultation aims to resolve two key issues a) how to define an agency worker and b) how to define pay.

The BERR pointed out, however, out that the Unions would be wary of creating loopholes through introducing opt-outs into the Directive.

The TAWD will entitle agency workers who have worked on assignment with the same end user for at least 12 weeks to at least equal treatment as permanent workers. The meaning of equal treatment has yet to be precisely defined, but it will definitely include equal pay, and is likely to encompass basic working conditions, such as access to training, amenities, notice of termination, and so on.


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