Saturday, February 28, 2009

UK unions push for early implementation of EU agency worker rules

The UK Department for Business and Regulatory Reform is burdened with a rather onerous title and, worse a very inconvenient acronym (DBERR). So it probably should come as no surprise that is responsible for creating one of the most inelegant and soulless phrases I have come across for a while. The "Comparator Worker" is some-one who does the same job as you at the same company as you and recieves the same salary as you, only difference being s/he is on a temporary contract.

There should not even be any reason to come up with a new name for what is already understood universally as a temporary worker except DBERR is to carry out a consultation on how best to define such a worker as part of its preparations for the implementation of new EU legislation on agency workers. Businesses want to ensure that there is a clear difference between a temporary worker and a permanent one even if the nature of their work is the same. However Union leaders from the GMB and Unite will be giving a different interpretation when they see Gordon Brown in Bristol today.

The UK reluctantly agreed to a new EU Directive that would give temporary workers to pay as much to temps who have been in the job at least 12 weeks as they would to permanent employees (if their jobs can be similarly defined) and also award the same levels of redundancy to the temp (after 12 weeks) as they would to permanent employees. This arrangement removes the disincentive to employ some-one on a permanent contract as well as any possibility of discriminating against the agency worker if s/he have been working effectively as a permanent employee. The Unions will want to see the measures adopted as law in the UK by April 2010 but business wants to wait until the EU deadline of the end of 2011.

Lord Mandelson will have a view. As will Harriet Harman. Somehow, I'm not sure they will be the same as eachothers.....

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