UK/EU - UK Unions have vowed to oppose any move from the government to water down an EU directive that gives agency workers the same pension rights as permanent staff.
Under current proposals, agency workers have the right to join occupational pension schemes after only six weeks’ employment.
But the Department of Trade and Industry is pushing for a nine-month waiting period for agency workers in the directive before they have access to full employee benefits, including pensions.
Trades Union Congress general secretary-elect Brendan Barber said: “Agency work is, by its very nature, temporary and many of the UK’s most vulnerable low-paid workers would lose out if they had to wait several months before any rights kicked in.”
The TUC also expressed fears that if there was a nine-month vesting period of agency workers, companies would get around the law by employing these staff for shorter periods.
But law firm Pinsent Curtis Biddle predicted earlier this year that, even if the EU’s proposals go through unabated, agency workers would be unlikely to win equal pension rights in the UK.
Associate Nicola Bumpus said that the European directive that covered fixed-term workers gave employers the option of avoiding the provision of occupational pensions to fixed-term workers.
She said that this option was likely to be used for temporary workers too.
*The Department of Trade and Industry has estimated that plans to extend temporary workers’ rights will cost businesses £95m in additional pay and pensions.
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