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UK — Prime Minister promises early implementation of AWD

16 September 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised union leaders at a meeting in Liverpool yesterday that the European Union's controversial Agency Workers Directive (AWD) will be fast-tracked into law before the general election next year, the Daily Mail reports.

AWD will mean that agency and temporary staff will earn full employment rights such as holiday and sick pay after just 12 weeks in any job. It will affect 1.3 million agency staff and contract workers and will cost the economy 40 billion Pounds over 6 years according to the government's own figures.

Ann Swain of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies said, "the new laws will damage the employment prospects of thousands of well-paid contract workers. The government appears to have a very outdated view of what a typical UK temporary worker looks like. The majority are not the vulnerable low-paid workers the EU is seeking to protect but professionals or skilled workers for whom this is hugely detrimental."

She added, "it would be ridiculous to try to rush these changes through in order to curry favour with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and we would hope the government would delay implementation for as long as possible."

John Cridland, Deputy-Director of the employer's organisation Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said, "it is imperative that the government does not rush these complex proposals and they should not be included in this parliamentary session. Likewise it is vital that business, agencies and workers are given time to adapt and any changes must not be brought in before 2011."



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