Agency workers given same rights as full time employees

The European parliament have passed a new directive to give “Agency workers” the same rights as full time employees from their first day of work. The legislation had received strong opposition when tabled in 2002 from the United Kingdom because it originally proposed affording equal rights after six weeks.

Earlier this year the TUC, CBI and government reached an agreement to enforce a 12 week qualifying period before agency workers are eligible for equal treatment. The legislation passed on Wednesday supports different domestic qualifying periods to be agreed by member states. The UK are understood to be the only country to take advantage of the “domestic agreement” provision.

The directive gives agency workers the same rights such as pay, holidays, working time, rest periods and maternity leave as permanent employees. Its not exactly clear if the new rules will apply to “freelance workers” something policy makers hope to address early next year.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber commented:

This new Directive is the result of six years of committed campaigning by unions.

'Too many agency workers in the UK have faced unfair treatment and injustice, as our Commission on Vulnerable Employment highlighted earlier this year.

'Now agency workers will now finally have a fair deal and be entitled to the same pay as permanent staff doing the same job, and receive much stronger legal protection from exploitation.

'The passage into law of today's Directive means that opponents of more rights for temps have now lost, and the UK cannot now opt-out of better rights for agency workers.'

EU social policy commissioner Vladimir Spidla also welcomed the decision, suggesting that the new law represents "a major step forward for Social Europe guaranteeing protection for all agency workers in Europe."

Posted by Dizali Mentha



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