Agency temporary workers in the UK are set to qualify for a pay and conditions boost as new rights come into effect, the BBC reports.
The EU Agency Workers Directive gives such workers equality with directly employed staff after 12 weeks in a job.
This could mean pay rises and rights to holidays, sick pay, maternity leave and access to private health benefits.
As expected, trade unions welcomed the move, but some employers and agencies say it could discourage firms from hiring casual staff.
The move comes after the UK government implemented the European Union directive, which was introduced on 1 October.
Under the new rules, agency workers will be allowed to use some of the same facilities as staff.
For example, from the first day of employment they can use a creche, canteen or transport services.
They will also be entitled to information about internal vacancies at the company they are working for, and to be given the opportunity to apply for them.
After 12 weeks in the same role, agency workers will be entitled to the same employment and working conditions as permanent staff.
These include pay, overtime, shift allowances, holiday pay and bonuses attributable to individual performance, as well as maternity rights.
Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said the development was “the best possible Christmas present for the majority of our agency members”.
“Six years after the launch of the CWU’s campaign, hundreds of thousands of agency workers across the UK can now finally look forward to some basic employment fairness,” he said.
“Not so very much to ask for, you would have thought, yet it’s been a fight that has pitched the trade union movement against successive UK governments and commercial interests – some of which are even now trying to circumvent this welcome piece of European legislation.”
But some employers’ groups, such as the Forum of Private Business, suggest the new rules will make the labour market less flexible, and job creation and recruitment will suffer.
And the CBI said many businesses were scaling back on agency workers because of the extra cost of the new law, which should be “setting alarm bells” through Whitehall.
There are currently 1.4 million agency workers in the UK.
Agency staff already have basic employment rights in the UK, such as the minimum wage, and are subject to the Work Time Regulations which provide for 20 days basic holiday and eight days bank holiday leave. Source: BBC.
The EU led directive is expected to damage the British agency workers industry which helps the country’s employers remain competitive.
Migrant workers employed through agencies receive varying degrees of fair treatment.
EU workers, such as Bulgarians and Romanians, and students are more likely to work for an agency, which then places them into temporary positions in client companies.
Most of the larger established agencies treat staff fairly, however, some are not so good.
Some Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, who do not have the same rights as other Europeans, have reported cases of exploitation and pay rates below the minimum wage.
Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK can set up a business and obtain a self employed yellow card, or obtain a student Yellow Card registration permit, which allows them to study and work full time if they are taking vocational courses such as NVQ or QCF courses in Health and Social Care.
Whilst employers are reluctant to take on an employee on a self employed basis, some agencies are not so fussy and will employ Bulgarians and Romanians regardless of their status.
But ‘flexibility’ comes at a price. Long hours, no holiday or sick pay and rates as low as £3 per hour are common in agencies which turn a blind eye to your immigration status.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org