Equal Treatment for Agency Workers – European Parliament approves the directive on temporary agency workMonday, November 3rd, 2008
After six years of disagreement, the European Parliament has voted in Strasbourg to support, without amendment, the proposals for the Directive on Temporary Agency Work put forward by the European Commission.
The Directive aims to ensure that temporary agency workers are treated on an equal basis with permanent workers, but also aims to recognise the legitimate contribution of the temporary work sector in creating jobs as well as the responsibilities of agencies as employers.
There are over three million temporary agency workers currently working across the EU. The Directive should ensure:
- equal treatment from day one for temporary agency workers compared to permanent workers in terms of basic working and employment conditions (including pay, holidays, working time, rest periods and maternity leave) unless social partners agree otherwise
- equal access to collective facilities (such as canteens, child care facilities, or transport services)
- better access for agency workers to training when working on an assignment and in between assignments.
The draft Directive ensures that the principle of equal treatment between temporary agency workers and the workers directly recruited by user companies, as regards basic working and employment conditions, should apply from day one of their assignments except if social partners agree otherwise. In the UK, the government has already gained the agreement of the social partners, i.e. the CBI and the TUC, that
- entitlement to equal treatment will apply after 12 weeks in a given job, and.
- equal treatment will be defined to mean that at least the same basic working and employment conditions would apply to agency workers as would have applied if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to perform the same job.
Following the approval of the European Parliament, EU countries are now required to incorporate the provisions of the Directive in their national law. It will then come into effect within three years.
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