New laws must give agency workers genuine equal rights

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date: 29 July 2009

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 31 July 2009

The TUC is calling on the Government to ensure new rules give agency workers real protection from exploitation and genuine equal treatment on pay, holiday and hours, in its submission to the consultation on the Temporary Agency Workers Directive which closes today (Friday).

With the recession and growing unemployment forcing more people to accept temporary work in place of permanent jobs, the TUC wants the Directive to end discrimination against temps by guaranteeing that all agency workers receive the same rights on pay, holiday and working time as directly employed staff, following a 12-week qualifying period.

A new survey commissioned by the TUC from YouGov interviewed over 2,700 people who are temps or who have done agency work in the past year. It revealed many temps face discrimination at work. One in three (33 per cent) respondents said that directly employed staff were paid more than temps for doing the same work, and nearly half (46 per cent) said they received less holiday entitlement.

Three in four (75 per cent) respondents to the poll said temps were entitled to less redundancy pay than directly employed staff, and more than two in three (70 per cent) said that agency workers were entitled to less maternity pay than directly employed colleagues.

The TUC submission calls on the Government to introduce the new regulations as quickly as possible and to ensure they:

apply to all agency workers;

deliver genuine equal treatment for temps on pay, holiday and working time;

prevent employers from avoiding the regulations, for example by hiring temps on a series of short-term contracts or giving them different assignments in the same workplace;

provide clear and precise rules about how the rights should be applied.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'While agency working has a legitimate role to play within the economy, TUC research has exposed widespread mistreatment of agency workers across the UK.

'Agency workers have told the TUC they regularly find themselves with less basic pay, holiday pay and entitlement, redundancy pay, maternity pay, and access to training and childcare than directly employed staff doing the same job.

'The Government must introduce the new regulations in the Directive quickly to ensure that temps are protected and that the exploitation of agency workers by rogue agencies ends as soon as possible.

'The new laws must provide real protection and any loopholes which would allow unscrupulous employers to avoid the law and continue to mistreat agency workers must be closed.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,707 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22-25 June 2009. The survey was carried out online. The sample was constructed from YouGov panel members who are currently working through an agency or have done so in the last year. This is not a representative sample of agency workers as it under-represents those on lower pay and in more vulnerable employment as they are less likely to be online, but as there is no accurately known profile of all agency workers, it is not possible to weight the data to provide a representative sample.

-The full questions and answers referred to in the text are available at: www.tuc.org.uk/extras/agencypoll2009.pdf

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

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Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: ebrenchley@tuc.org.uk

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