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October 2009

 

Update: Government delays implementation of Agency Workers Directive

Gordon Brown at the TUC in LiverpoolThe Government has now announced that The European Agency Workers Directive (AWD) will not be implemented in full until the last possible date - October 2011. During his address to the TUC in Liverpool the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said that full implementation would take place before the next general election.

Many business organisations, fearful of the enormous cost implications, had been pressing the Government to delay implementation but the move is likely to be controversial with the unions, who have been campaigning for years to ensure that agency workers receive equal treatment with their full-time colleagues. The TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

"The Government is right to introduce new rights for agency workers, but it is extremely disappointing that temps will have to wait so long for these rights to come into effect. Agency workers are even more in need of protection during a recession. Vulnerable workers are always the first to suffer when times are hard."

Launching the Government's consultation paper on the proposed changes, the Business Minister, Pat McFadden, made the following statement.

“As the Prime Minister has said, the Government is committed to getting this legislation on the Statute Book by the end of this Parliament. The law will come into force in the UK in October 2011, giving recruiters and their clients time to prepare and plan. We are also mindful of the need to avoid changing requirements on business until the economic recovery is more firmly established.”

Commenting on the Government’s proposals for implementing the AWD, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The announcement to delay implementation of the Agency Workers Directive until October 2011 is welcome and we recognise that the Government has made some changes to their plans to help minimise the burden on business. In particular, we are pleased that small businesses with no pay scales or a comparable employee will be de facto exempt from this legislation.”

Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of the Association of Recruitment Consultants, was also pleased to hear of the delayed implementation date. He said:

“The delay in implementing the Agency Workers Directive is welcome news. We and many others had pressed for this and there is no doubt that many businesses will breathe a sigh of relief.  However, it is crystal clear that the real deal is to get the terms of the legislation right, to minimise the potential damage to businesses. In its proposed “gold-plated” form it will do untold damage to the industry and to agency work."

There are estimated to be more than 1.3 million agency workers in the UK and many rights have already been conferred by the Government, including the National Minimum Wage, Working Time Regulations, holiday pay and Statutory Sickness and Maternity Pay.

The provisions of the Directive, as agreed by the TUC and the CBI, are intended to establish the principle of equal rights on basic working and employment conditions.

The main objectives will be to ensure equal treatment in terms of pay and holiday entitlement, but not occupational social security schemes like pensions.

The rights will be subject to a 12 week qualifying period and will not include an extension of the right to redundancy pay, dismissal notice, flexible working or a self standing right to claim unfair dismissal.

The Government's consultation paper can be found by clicking here. Responses must be submitted before 11 December 2009.


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