Todaymarks a vital meeting on the future of the Agency Workers Directive, when it isdiscussed by the EU’s Council of Ministers. Thedirective, as drafted, will give the UK’s 1.8 million temporary workers theright to equal employment conditions as permanent staff from day one ofemployment. It will also give them the right to equal pay six weeks after theyhave been hired.PersonnelToday first highlighted employer concerns over the impact of the directive inFebruary last year. Our survey on it attracted more than 1,000 responses fromemployers and revealed that almost 80 per cent of them think the directive willincrease staffing costs. Three-quarters believe it would lead to more red tape.Almosthalf of the organisations polled are concerned that it will damage the UK’scompetitiveness. A majority think they will employ less temps if the directiveis introduced without changes.Employmentminister Alan Johnson is right to fight for changes (see page 1) so that agencystaff don’t qualify for the same pay and conditions as permanent employeesuntil they have been working for an employer for up to a year. TheCouncil of Ministers could give ground and introduce an extended qualificationperiod, but there is no guarantee that the European Parliament won’tsubsequently overturn this.Thatwould mean the UK would have to comply with legislation completely unsuited toits particular labour market, and employers will suffer. If this undermines ourcompetitiveness, then the very jobs the directive is being introduced toprotect will be at risk.Asif this situation is not worrying enough, we now face the prospect of evenfurther interference from EU bureaucrats with the implications of the draftEuropean constitution. There has been a lot of media hype about this over thelast week, but the potential problems with it are real enough.Employmentexperts are concerned that the constitution could lead to fundamental changesto the UK’s industrial relations culture because it may give unions greaterpowers over recognition and collective bargaining. Employersand industry bodies need to start lobbying the Government now to ensure we arenot faced with more European legislation creeping through the back door thatultimately benefits no-one.ByBen Willmott Euro bureaucrats are knocking at your doorOn 3 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.