EUROPE - EU proposals to strengthen agency workers' pay and employment rights could mean pension rights for temporary workers, lawyers warn.
The EU legislation is set to cover both pay, working hours and holiday rights. Confusion currently exists over whether pay also means pension schemes. But many think that even if pay does not do so at the moment, it will not be very long before it does.
Hammond Suddards Edge solicitor Francois Barker said: “If you accept that this directive requires equality of treatment in terms of pay, then it is a short step from that to say that businesses using agency workers must also provide them with the same pension benefits as they provide their own employees with.”
Such logic, said Barker, could effectively require an employer to extend its occupational scheme to a non-employee. The Confederation of British Industry has slammed the proposals as “unworkable” and questioned the right of the EU to impose any of this legislation on member states.
It argues that under the current Social Chapter the commission cannot cover matters relating to pay. The CBI says that even the fact that the Department of Trade and Industry is pressing for a six week exclusion clause is unsatisfactory.
CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said: “A six week qualifying period before equal treatment rights apply is a wholly inadequate response because most temp assignments last longer than this.”
Cridland added: “It would only help firms covering holidays and would remove flexibility for employers covering for vacancies and maternity leave for example.”
William M Mercer employment lawyer Andrew Gordon agreed: “Many companies currently use temporary workers as a short-term employment solution, without thinking about longer-term business goals. The commission’s proposals will ultimately increase employers’ costs, making the use of temps a less attractive option.”
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