Give agency workers equal rights from the first day, says TUC

Share this Page

English

date: 7 November 2007

embargo: 00.01 Friday 9 November 2007

The TUC is calling on the Government today (Friday) to give agency workers the same rights as directly employed staff, from day one of their assignment with an employer.

Currently employers are under no obligation to offer agency workers the same pay and basic working conditions as permanent staff. It is perfectly legal for employers to hire temps on much lower hourly rates than they would pay directly employed workers, and on far worse terms and conditions, even though they are doing the same job.

As discussions over an EU Temporary Agency Directive continue in the run up to the Social Affairs Council in early December, the TUC is calling on the Government to do all it can to encourage the EU to sign up to this Directive which would offer effective protection for temps. One issue still under discussion in Europe is whether agency workers should benefit from equal treatment rights from their first day in the job.

The TUC is concerned that any qualifying period longer than day one would result in many agency workers losing out on protection altogether. Recent official figures show that if agency workers were only given equal rights to the same basic working conditions as directly employed staff after 12 months, nearly three quarters (71.6 per cent) of agency workers would miss out. If the qualifying period was set at six months, over half of temporary workers (54 per cent) would still not be eligible for these rights. And a three month qualifying period would automatically exclude a quarter of all agency workers (25.1 per cent).

If negotiations on the EU Directive fail to make progress, the TUC is calling on the Government to introduce domestic legislation to give agency workers the same basic rights as their colleagues from the first day in the job - as is the case in most of the rest of the EU.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Agency workers regularly earn less than directly employed staff , are not allowed to benefit from an employer's contributions to a pension scheme, are given less holiday, little if any access to training, and tend to get no contractual sick pay.

'Some people, including women and older workers, are always going to prefer to work a series of temporary contracts, but just because they opt for agency work shouldn't mean they are treated less fairly at work.

'T oo many employers are replacing permanent staff with reasonable terms and conditions with badly paid, insecure agency staff. Far from providing a bridge to permanent work, this runs the risk of creating a whole underclass of temporary workers who cannot get permanent work and who have no loyalty to their employers.

'There is a simple solution to this problem - the EU Directive could give UK agency workers new rights to equal treatment from the first day they are taken on. Day one rights would also avoid the danger that unscrupulous employers would get round the law by taking on temps for one day short of the qualifying period. Agency workers already face job insecurity, a qualifying period will only make this worse.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Temporary agency workers - length of time continuously employed

Number of months continuously employed

Number of temporary agency workers

Per cent of temporary agency workers

1

40,264

15.8

2

23,020

9.0

3

19,925

10.3

4

26,113

7.8

5

15,584

6.1

6

12,492

4.9

7

12,164

4.8

8

5,091

2.0

9

8,024

3.1

10

7,866

3.1

11

6,770

2.7

12

4,705

1.8

13-23

34,392

13.5

24-59

28,339

11.1

60 and above

9,716

3.8

Grand total

254,465

100.0

Source: LFS Microdata Service October 2007

- Six months ago the TUC launched a Commission on Vulnerable Employment to investigate the extent of workplace exploitation and consider improvements to the enforcement regime and legal protection available for vulnerable staff . Exploited workers, including agency workers, can submit their experiences of working in the UK to www.vulnerableworkers.org.uk

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet : a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: ebrenchley@tuc.org.uk

Media office T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk

Press Release
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Share this Page