Business secretary John Hutton today announced a deal to give agency workers equal treatment with employed staff after 12 weeks in a job.
The agreement, which is backed by the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry, follows concerted pressure on government from unions and Labour backbenchers.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will now seek European Union-wide agreement on the deal to inform a directive on agency workers, which has been delayed for several years due to the opposition of a number of states, including the UK. This would enable the agreement to be brought into legal effect in the UK.
Equal treatment would apply to “basic working and employment conditions” though not occupational social security schemes. The DBERR said it would consult on measures to resolve disputes between agency staff and employers, and to prevent employers from avoiding giving staff equal treatment, for instance by through putting some people on repeat contracts.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The issue of agency workers has been crying out for attention for far too long. Too many agency workers in the UK face unfair treatment and injustice.”