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UK — TUC Approach ‘outdated’ says REC

31 July 2009

A new survey commissioned by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) based on interviews with over 2,700 people who are temporaries, or who have done agency work in the past year, reveals that many temporariess face discrimination at work. One in three (33 per cent) respondents said that directly employed staff were paid more than temporaries 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 temporaries 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 has called on the Government to introduce new regulations as quickly as possible and to ensure they deliver genuine equal treatment for temporaries on pay, holiday and working time and 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;

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: '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.'

Commenting on the report, Kevin Green, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Chief Executive, said: "The TUC survey is mostly based on perception rather than fact and the idea that temporary workers are systematically exploited and underpaid is wide of the mark.

“Blinkered calls for a heavy-handed implementation of the new EU regulations completely ignore the bigger picture and could result in putting more people on the dole. Temporary work is by definition different to permanent employment and there are huge practical issues linked to establishing equal treatment in the UK — especially where there are no formal pay scales to refer to.â€VbCrLf

Kevin Green adds: “Recruitment agencies believe that the EU Directive could add over 20% of cost to the provision of agency workers and could lead to a significant drop in demand from employers.

"The last thing we need at the moment is to suffocate the UK’s agency market and negate the crucial role that temporary work can play in the upturn. The Government must implement the EU Directive in a way that is workable and must be prepared to challenge the Trade Union’s outdated approach to flexible working options."



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