The harsh reality of proposed temps law

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. The harsh reality of proposed temps lawOn 15 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today With 71 per cent of employers saying they would be damaged by the EU draftAgency Workers Directive, Ben Willmott analyses our exclusive researchThis month the European Parliament will vote on the Agency WorkersDirective, which seeks to provide temporary staff with the same pay andconditions as permanent staff. Personnel Today and Manpower’s recent survey of almost 1,000 employersrevealed that the majority are opposed to the directive. Under the directive as drafted, agency workers would receive equal rights aspermanent staff after they have been employed for six weeks. The research shows that more than 70 per cent of organisations think it willdamage their businesses through increased red tape and employment costs. Pay The study finds that agency staff in the UK are already well rewarded fortheir efforts, with 45 per cent of firms revealing they pay their agency staffthe same as permanent staff and 23 per cent paying temps more than theirpermanent employees. Ruth Hounslow, director of public affairs for Manpower, said the surveyshows that temporary staff are not treated as second class employees. “The fact that 68 per cent of employers are already paying their agencystaff as well as or better than permanent staff shows how highly they value theirflexible workforce,” she said. Only just over a quarter of respondents pay their agency staff less than therest of their workers. Benefits However, the research reveals that agency staff are not so well rewarded interms of the benefits. Half of the employers surveyed do not provide their temps with holiday pay,while only 20 per cent of respondents provide agency staff with maternityleave, 12 per cent paternity leave and 10 per cent pension provision. Hounslow said Manpower offers its temps generous benefits such as maternitypay and life insurance, but admits that many agencies need to do more in thisarea. Length of assignment The study finds that more than half of employers typically use temps forlonger than six weeks at a time and so would be hit by the draft agency workersdirective. As many as one million temps are available for work each day in theUK, according to REC figures. A quarter of organisations use agency staff for periods of between six weeksand three months, 14 per cent of firms use them for periods of between threemonths and six months and 8 per cent use agency employees for between six and12 months. A total of 3 per cent of respondents use temps for periods of between 12months and 18 months and 2 per cent employ them for more than 18 months. The research shows that 40 per cent of employers use agency employees forsix weeks or less; just over a quarter employ agency workers for between twoand six weeks and 15 per cent hire them for periods of up to two weeks. According to the study the majority of employers think the draft directive’squalifying period should be extended beyond six weeks. In all, 35 per cent report they would like to see the qualifying periodlengthened to three months, 22 per cent to six months and 18 per cent to ayear. Only 12 per cent of respondents think the qualifying period should remain atsix weeks and 9 per cent would like to see temps be given equal rights from dayone. Reasons for using temporary staff The survey finds that temps are used by firms to fulfil a wide range ofessential business needs and make up a considerable chunk of the UK’sworkforce. Seven out of 10 organisations use agency staff to quickly make-up anunpredicted shortfall in staff numbers and 56 per cent of respondents use tempsto staff short-term projects. A large proportion of organisations use temporary staff to flex theirworkforce as workloads fluctuate, with 46 of respondents highlighting this as areason. In all, 12 per cent of organisations use agency staff to avoid theadministration of direct hiring and a similar proportion use temps for theirspecialist skills. Hounslow believes one of the reasons the UK employment climate is still sohealthy is because of the flexibility agency staff provide employers. “Oneof the reasons we have not seen the widespread redundancies in the UK that wemight have done in the past is because of the increasing strength of theflexible jobs market,” she said. Size of the agency worker market Nearly half of the businesses surveyed report that temporary staff make upbetween 1 and 2 per cent of their workforce. A fifth of respondents reveal that temps represent between 3 and 5 per centof their employees. In all, 9 per cent of employers report that agency staff make up 6 to 10 percent of their staff, while 7 per cent of respondents reveal temps representbetween 6 and 20 per cent of their workforce. The future Although the survey reveals the depth of concerns among UK employers aboutthe directive, it also indicates that most are not opposed to improving theemployment rights of agency staff on principle. This was reinforced by a recent survey, which asked ‘dotemporary workers in the UK need more employment protection?’ In all 46 per cent of the 253 respondents voted ‘yes’. But the six week qualification is the sticking point and must be extended toone year’s continuous employment. The directive must be approved by the Councilof Ministers and go through a final vote at the European Parliament before itis adopted this time next year at the earliest. It will not become law in the UK for at least 18 months after that, but itsimpact will be so significant that Personnel Today is determined to raise theprofile of the directive and ensure employers are aware of its implications. benefits do you offer your temporary staff?None                            50%Holidays                       46%Maternity leave             20%Paternity leave              12%Pension                        10%Life assurance               3%Health insurance           3%Company car                2%n/s                                2%Stock options               0% Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more