Extra rights for agency and temporary workers

The government has announced that agency and temporary workers will be given increased rights after a deal was struck with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Employers will have to treat agency workers the same as permanent staff after 12 weeks on the job, meaning they will receive equal pay. Agency workers will still be excluded from other benefits, including sick pay and pensions.

The agreement will come into effect through the EU directive on agency temps, which currently proposes equal pay after between zero and six weeks’ assignment with a company.The government hopes that the EU agreement on this issue will be obtained in time for the legislation to be introduced during the next parliamentary session.

John Cridland, CBI director general, said the move would allow Britain to opt out of the European Working Time Directive. “Critically, as well as enabling the European directive on agency work to be put to bed, this agreement should allow the retention of the working hours opt-out from the working time directive, which is equally vital to the future of the British economy.”

TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “Too many agency workers in the UK face unfair treatment and injustice. The agreement now opens the door to the much stronger legal protection that agency workers deserve.”