Clash over rights for agency workers

Business and union leaders clashed yesterday on the introduction of new rights for agency workers, with the CBI warning it will hit jobs.

The Agency Workers Directive comes into force today, giving equal employment rights to agency staff after a 12-week qualification period.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, said regulatory changes were counter-productive, and described the directive as “unwelcome”.

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She said: “A hard-won 12-week qualification period for each temp to be in a firm before the rules are applied should help control costs and minimise administrative burdens. But the new rules will still act as a brake on jobs.”

The CBI said the new rules on agency workers will cost employers an estimated £1.8 billion a year, and affect more than 1.6 million workers.

Kathleen Walker-Shaw, European officer for the GMB union, said: “We welcome the long-awaited rights. GMB wants to see agency and other employers using their energies to implement these rights in the spirit in which they were intended.”