More than 1m agency workers have been granted increased rights following a
"landmark deal" between the Confederation of British Industry, the government
and the unions.
Ministers now plan to introduce legislation in autumn, which will see agency
workers given equal pay and holiday entitlements after 12 weeks in a job.
Unions have lauded the deal for which they have campaigned. However, industry
bodies have warned the move removes flexibility from the labour market at a
time when it is most needed.
Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: "This is a landmark deal for
1.4m agency workers currently working in the UK. It is now much harder for
employers to treat agency workers as dispensable labour, hired and fired at
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber described the deal as "a victory for union
However, the CBI, which was integral in the negotiations, described the deal as
"the least worst outcome".
John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said that crucial to the agreement
was the ability to deal with short-term demand for staff and that, while pay is
covered, longer-term occupational benefits such as sick pay and pensions are
"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," he added.
Should the legislation be introduced, employers will have to pay equal salaries
to temporary staff in addition to the agency fees that come with agency staff.
George Thompson of print recruitment consultants
Harrison Scott Associates said: "Our view is that clients will be less inclined
to use agency staff and look at ways to resolve peaks and troughs with flexi or
overtime with full-time staff.
"Only a small percentage of our work is 'temp' business. In order to do our bit
to help our client base, we will operate on a reduced margin after 12 weeks in
order to share the added burden with the client."
One managing director of a large direct mail company, who did not wish to be
named, added: "This is yet another obstacle put in the way of business. Margins
are tight enough without additional costs."