In May 2008 the Government, CBI and TUC made a joint declaration on how fairer treatment for agency workers in the UK should be promoted. The statement announced that agreement had been reached on the following:

  • After 12 weeks in a given job any agency worker will be entitled to equal treatment.
  • Equal treatment will be defined as to mean the basic working and employment conditions that would apply to the workers concerned if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to occupy the same job. However, this will not apply to occupational social security schemes (e.g. SSP and pension payments).

At the European level the Temporary Agency Workers Directive the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council agreed in June 2008 the following key points:

  • Equal treatment between temporary agency workers and permanent workers from the first day of employment with regard to pay and maternity rights unless it has been agreed collectively or at national level to derogate from this.
  • Equal access for temporary agency workers to permanent employment and facilities and an improvement in access to some facilities for those workers when they are between assignments.
  • Penalties for non-compliance by agencies and end users.

The May declaration is the UK’s derogation from the first of these key planks.

The Government has stated that the EU Directive will be completed in time for the necessary UK implementing legislation to be introduced in the next Parliamentary session.