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The British Polish Chamber of Commerce (BPCC) has expressed its concerns about the new legislation on temporary workers' rights in the UK.
The EU Agency Workers Directive (AWD), which was passed in 2002, and from which the UK had opted out, will finally become implemented into English law. The Directive, which gives people employed by temporary employment agencies rights in line with those of permanent workers, is likely to become UK law by 2011.
Given the large number of Polish migrant workers employed in the UK on a temporary contract, this new legislation will certainly affect recruitment companies who recruit Poles to work in the UK.
At the heart of the changes is the stipulation that after 12 weeks' employment at a temporary staffing agency, a temporary worker receives all the benefits that a worker permanently employed enjoys — including paid vacation and maternity leave. Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has estimated that businesses are going to be hit with an unnecessary bill of nearly 1.2 billion Pounds a year.
A significant number of BPCC members are engaged in this sector, and are worried about the negative impact the new legislation might have on the UK economy if implemented in the way currently suggested by the Government in its consultation paper.
Martin Oxley, BPCC CEO, said "at a time when global economies are emerging out of recession, businesses need to have the flexibility to grow in the most dynamic way possible. Temporary workers have been a significant benefit in stimulating the growth of British business over the last five years. We should be looking after them at the same time as providing the necessary flexibilities to use this valuable resource."
The Government's second consultation on the UK implementation of the AWD was due at the end of September and was anxiously anticipated. It has been announced that the government will delay this decision and other key elements of its employment protection legislation until after the election in an attempt to keep the labour market flexible and slow the increase in unemployment. It now seems likely that the AWD will not be implemented until October or December 2011 which is the last possible commencement date under EU law.