Unions reach deal with government to give agency workers full time benefits after 12 weeks

Agency workers are to be given same rights as permanent workers within 12 weeks of starting a job, under a government plan.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform scheme, agreed with the TUC and the CBI, will enable agency workers to receive the same basic working and employment conditions afforded to directly-employed workers. This will cover such basic rights as pay rates and hours of employment, but not occupational social security schemes.

The agreement with the UK unions will allow the government to agree on the terms of the Agency Workers Directive with the EU.

John Hutton

John Hutton, the business secretary, said: “Today’s agreement achieves our twin objectives of flexibility for British employers and fairness for workers. It will give people a fair deal at work without putting their jobs at risk or cutting off a valuable route into employment.”

BERR hopes that it will be able to push through the new employment rights for agency workers in the next parliamentary session.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT, said: “This decision by the government is long overdue and it will make a huge difference to hundreds of thousands of agency workers who have faced grossly unfair discrimination at work.”

Tom Hadley, director of external relations for the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said: “The 12-week qualification period is obviously a better outcome than the ‘day one’ equal treatment provisions that the trade unions were calling for but will nevertheless impact on the majority of temporary assignments.

"The scope of equal treatment provisions is a vital issue and it is essential this covers only basic pay rather than other benefits and pensions which would be almost impossible to work out for each assignment.”