back to article Europe gives temps same rights as permanent staff

The European Parliament has passed a proposal to give temporary staff and contractors the same employment rights as permanent staff. On the day Mandelson's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform promised to cut red tape for small businesses, Brussels seems intent on moving in the opposite direction. The …


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  1. Joe K


    Maternity leave? For temps?

    Isn't the point of temps to replace those on maternity leave already, then if that bint gets knocked up the company will be paying out two sets of wages for a woman to do fuck all for the company.

    Not gonna endear women in the workplace to employers this one.

    Hey, i'm just sayin.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well I suppose

    I they are going to tax them like employees then they might as well treat them like employees

  3. Steve

    Screw small businesses

    Having held a number of positions where I've been paid about a third of what the less qualified permanent staff are earning I would just like to say it is not a trade off for "flexibilty" you patronising fucks.

    Low wages AND a complete lack of job security? Sign me up!

    They may only give you 30secs notice of termination, but at least you don't have to worry about career progression because there is none.

  4. Jason Clery
    Thumb Up


    Having worked as a "temp" (Via M*npower) for a Big Blue IT company, I can say this law is good. We were full time staff, but were paid considerably less than the permies (permies got an average of 30% more), and got a lot less in benefits.

    The only ones who will complain are those that hire "temps" for longer than 3 months. Day one is too soon, but 3 months is about right for the benefits to kick in.

    Either the worker is a temp (and leaves in 3 months), a contractor (and has a fixed term contract) or a staff member.

  5. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    Just another excuse...

    for this shambles of a government to go back on it's word, yet again. ("A big boy made me do it")

    Been intent on shafting contractors for years, this just gives them more ammo.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Temp status is being abused by employers

    I've been a "temp" with an ongoing contract working within the same company for 7 years - yet I don't get as many holidays or sick days etc. as workers directly employed by the company.

    I could probably do a list of advantages that they have but we don't - but the point is, after at most a couple of years this shouldn't be "temp" anymore and we should have the same rights, yet the company still prefers to hire people through Addeco, Manpower etc.. and keep them on those temp contracts.

    This legislation is definitely a step in the right direction, and hopefully will push companies to re-consider how they use temps.

  7. Alan Fisher

    Temps - the defense

    Basically agencies screw temps left, right and centre. If you've been out of work for a while or are just struggling to find work by the traditional route, you go through an agency. Nowadays a lot of people start as temps and end up permanent after a 6 month 'trial' period. However, agencies charge a 'buyup fee' for this 'service' and often companies keep people on as 'contrators' almost indefinately, doing the same work as their regular employees but usually for less money and with much less in the way of rights. This will discourage that practise and the tricks agencies played in order to avoid the current statutes (the contracting of 'umbrella companies' for paying their temps, for example, making many temps legally 'self-employed'). I've been a temp myself before but luckily I managed to get out of the cycle. My advice is, despite the changes in the law, go for recruitment consultants (they hire for the employee, hence you are employed by the company you're working at, not by the agency; viz you are permanent) and avoid temping agencies like the plague! The point of this new law is to discourage temp stacking and so forth, and make temp-perm (the 6 month 'trial' thing i mentioned earlier) positions the norm. Stop the agencies getting all the cream from (ahem) the thankless milking and churning of their (nominally) employees ( I love a good extended metaphor!)....give these employees some cream too!

  8. Steven Jones

    More reason to Offshore

    So that might just be one more motivation to offshore work. That's unless the EU is planning to extend employment rights to India.

  9. Hollerith

    Having been a temp...

    I know it can be like being slave labour. You have no safety net and you are on your own when you are long-term ill, etc.

    I suppose the idea is that temps, often poorly paid, should not be even more disadvantaged if they become pregnant or ill, because then someone already not very well off is pushed to the wall. And you shouldn't be able to use people int he good times and ditch them in the bad times (oh, you're ill? Bye-bye) because that's why labour laws were brought in.

    On the other hand, as a temp, you can just walk whenever you please, you don't have to get involved with the company, can skip Christmas luncehons, that sort of thing.

    To me, it's like marriage -- you can hitch up with a company, or just live with them. The former gives you protections, rights, but also commitments, the latter is more risky, but it's easier to say goodbye and walk. But if you are not married and your partner seriously f*cks you over, it's harder in law to be treated with dignity. There was talk for a while of bringing in protection to co-habitees. Maybe it will follow this?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who pays?

    The companies that hire temps pay through the nose for it - it costs a company more to have a temp (shitty Ts&Cs an' all) than it would to pay a permie. It's the temping companies that are stiffing the temps. And the companies that use them by charging *even* more if the company *dares* to offer permanent employment to the cash cow^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h.

    So, a temp agency (the one with whom the temping worker has a contract) has to pay the temps according to the widely varying pay scales of their clients, and provide identical conditions of employment (equally varied)? The ones my other half have worked for have found it difficult enough to figure out what holiday entitlements and pay she's on when they only have the one set of Ts and Cs.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good for real temps

    As long as us contractors (on FIXED term contracts) don't get shafted (more)!

  12. Mark

    re: Temp status is being abused by employers

    I thought that hole had been plugged with the same thing that plugged the "eternal contractor" law change? A contractor who works for the same company for more than 5 (?) years was considered a full time employee and not a contractor.

    After all, a contractor is meant for a specific job while you don't have the continuing need that would justify getting a FTE.

    I thought that same loophole cut was the same for temps. Even if the contract calls you a temp, if you've been working for the same company (or contracted to the same company via your agency) for more than 5 years, you were a FTE.

  13. jon


    Temp status is abused by corporations in the UK. It's the inbetween place between employment and unemployment with none of the benefits.

    3 months sounds fair to me. Will they also include a catch all for IR35 contractors/employees... ?

  14. Al

    About time too....

    Our beloved government has been closing off all the advantages to being a temp/contractor over the years. Now the only thing in favour of it is some level of flexibilty, but that's two-edged. Extending legal protection to temp staff isn't going to harm the market - or if it does, it's only going to damage the companies playing the system.

    Maybe it'll be a manifesto promise for the next General Election....

  15. Rolf Howarth


    I'm mightily confused by the whole issue of giving temporary workers full employment rights. That's absolutely fine, but the question is who are they employees of? It seems that everyone is saying it's the company where they do the work but surely it makes more sense for them to be treated as employees of their AGENCY?

    Let's say I take on a contract with a domestic cleaning agency to have someone come round for a couple of hours every week and clean my house. Would I still be expected to pay them if my regular cleaner is off sick or becomes pregnant?? What if I don't have a regular cleaner and it's someone different each week? Yes, someone employed as a cleaner deserves sick pay and other benefits like any other employee, but surely it should be the agency paying for it, that's why they add a mark up.

    If as a result the agencies need to charge a higher mark up then so be it. Companies can then decide whether to employ staff themselves or hire their services through an agency and let the agency take employment rights.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    boo hoo

    The CBI would be against the abolition of slavery.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    About bloody time

    As a 'temp' I ended up on a site for over a year, with no rights to any sort of leave without it hurting my take home.

    My daughter was born on a Thursday, I took the Friday off and had to be back at my desk on the Monday, because no-one would take responsibility for any Paternity leave. No chance of any holidays, and being told that I wasn't to come in between Xmas ad New Year and thereby loosing money.

    Constant carping about doing work prior to my shif starting if I was silly enough to be onsite, combined with them then complaining when I tried to leave early to make it up, bitching about why we had the use of the email system - "but they aren't direct employees", and the #@&* who finally let me go having her pet boy tell me I was "unmotivated"

    No wonder I chuckled when they all got outsourced, what goes around comes around.

    Mines the one with a bag of sh!te in the pocket

  18. david bates

    As a contractor...

    ....I dont want Permie rights - I chose my route. More cash and more flexibility in exchange for being responsible for my own problems.

    Will I be able to 'opt-out' of this I wonder?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    How does this fit with contractors then? Are they classed as temps? What about the other non-employed like sole traders and those in umbrella companies? As contractors are generally treated as temps, then after they've been in place for 12 weeks are companies going to be forced to give them paid holidays, stock options, pensions etc etc etc?

    Actually, this could solve the IR35 question nicely -

    "Have you been there over 12 weeks?"


    "Did you get the employee benefits?"


    Result - the Inland Revenue has to drop the case because they weren't an employee, or force the client company to get all the contractors benefits before they can get the contractor.

    Personally, I can see the government refusing to implement it, or screwing it up so that they can continue with IR35 and other complex taxation schemes that do no one any favours. Or am I just betraying my natural cynicism?

    Paris, cos I need a question mark icon, and I can't use the other one because I see the IT angle.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Job security?

    Maybe it's different over here in the US but as a contractor, I earn about 30-40% more than a permie. Granted, no insurance or paid holidays, company sponsored retirement plan (LOL...sorry but had to laugh at that as I read the news about the trillions retirement plans lost in the meltdown) etc., but even taking care of that myself out of pocket, I'm ahead of the permie game substantially.

    Add to that the fact that I don't have to put up with any corporate political BS and can leave whenever I want without the stigma of jumping from job to job.

    Oh, and to all those 'no job security as a contractor' folks: How many of the 1500 at Yahoo and 1000 at eBay are permies? ;)

    First rule of employment in the New Economy: There is NO job security.

  21. Watashi

    Bad day for NuLab

    One of the main reasons why NuLab loves private involvment in public services is that it cuts labour costs. This is because private sector companies can use temp employees with much greater freedom and so have lower overheads with regards to pensions etc. This ruling will push up costs for the private sector and will make part-privatisation and PFI contracts even poorer value for money than they already are.

    So, this is actually yet another bad day for Labour - but as the cost increase won't filter through for a while, it will be the Tories who have to deal with the problem of having to pay more to maintain the same level of service. The next Tory treasurer is going to have to be a real miracle worker!

  22. Peter Jones

    Employee, Contractor, Temp.

    An employee has a Contract OF Service. That PERSON agrees to work for the company.

    Contractors and Temps have Contracts FOR Service. A COMPANY agrees to supply people to do work for the company.

    The differences between a Temp and a Contractor are many and varied, but the main difference is being in business for yourself. The whole IR35 debacle aside, the contractors in Umbrella companies are really temps, since they are technically employed by the Umbrella.

    So if all the Umbrella companies now have to provide the benefits of their permanent staff (the agents) does this mean that they are going to shut down, moving the contractors to their own Ltd companies?

  23. yeah, right.


    Ah, so the only thing that's good for small business is to be able to treat people like crap, use them up as temps, then discard them without so much as a by-your-leave when you're done with them?

    If that's the only way a company can stay alive, that company SHOULD be removed from the system. It's about time that temps were covered in proportion to the hours worked. There are far too many companies employing "temps" who actually work full time.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consultants, not temporary workers

    I don't think it will affect "contractors" - by that I mean consultants working as limited companies, the whole IR35 compliance thing means that you are operating as a business-to-business endeavour, and you are free to give yourself holidays etc as you choose.

  25. kain preacher

    Temp agencys

    I find that often times its the temp agency that screws you over. They lie about the assignment,over state your qualifications. I've worked on jobs were the agency pull out me off the assignment and the client had no clue.

    My favorite is when they make you sign a contract stating you wont work for the client for six months after the assignment is over. Thats standard for all temp agencies in the area. Had one try to make me sign a contract stating that I wont be listed or work with another temp agency until one year after I leave them. The funny thing is one of them seem to know that anti compete clauses are illegal in my state.

  26. Steve

    @ Job security?

    As a UK contractor, my experience is similar to US AC's above.....More money, less politics, no pension.

    After 11 years I've lost count of the number of times I've sat in a client's office with my back to the petty, bitchy, backstabbing, apathetic, jobsworthy, cynical,political mess going on around me. Meanwhile, I'm working my tits off and GETTING PAID FOR EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!. No wonder the permeez get snooty sometimes.

    When it gets really bad - like when that ageing hippy man-hating spinster next to me wouldn't stop flirting with that non-bald engineer who does those really complicated internet brain puzzles like ALL THE TIME - I draw a little pound sign on my monitor bezel (next to the clock), then grit my teeth and stare at it until the red haze passes. I don't think I could bear to stay in any office more than 3 months or so.

    Job security? I don't know many people who have that. My wife was made redundant 3 times before she thought stuff it and started her own company. Neither of us have looked back, really.

    So to all you temps out there getting a third of the money and none of the perks - all your bosses are screwing you. You can either hang around until you get these nice new rights (assuming the companies don't find ways around them), or leave numptyland behind you and find something more lucrative to do. Or, you could even get a proper permie role. Then, you'd still be getting screwed, but you'd also think that losing your job would be the end of your world!

    Oh, and to the other AC poster above - the Government pays your paternity leave. If you applied for it, it's yours. And take the 2 weeks off.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Steve Button Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    "contractors" or "temps"

    I can understand why temps through Adecco and the like would need this kind of protection, but contractors and particularly IT contractors sort out their own holidays, sick pay, pension, etc. Some of us work like crazy for months and then take a few months off travelling. Some of us, just take more holidays that we'd be allowed in a permie role. None of us ever takes a day off sick, unless we're really really sick (probably about 1 day every 5 years on average).

    With this and IR35, it seems they are making "contracting" illegal in the UK.

    Time to get out?

  29. rob

    big gov turns the screws one more time

    Please roll back all the changes to 1997!


    This does nothing, except bring IT Contracting to one step closer to extiction. Now I will have to set aside cash to fund my maternity leave (even thogh I am a bloke!) because not to do so would be sexual discrimination I will have to pre-fund any time off - exactly how do I do that (it used to be the case that I could pay myself a dividend, if i didn't take holiday or get pregnant - but no thats not allowed any more. I used to be able to fund courses, but this ability was taken away with IR35, so I dumped my company and sacked my one other member of staff. I used to be able to employ an umbrella company to sort out this mess, then that was made illegal. This government only wants permies or temp agencies, they don't like contractors because they are independant, and they hate independance, every one should hang off the state


  30. Jason Clery

    taking your job

    "Someone from another country will be taking your job instead - still think that would be an improvement?"

    Not if it needs a physical presence. Remote support will only work while the network is up. Code monkeys needs to worry, anything else that needs face to face customer services will not.

  31. Gulfie
    Thumb Down

    Sorry, don't agree

    As a freelance consultant I disagree with this proposal.

    My first stint freelance was in the late 1990s with the objective of founding a small IT consultancy. Then along came IR35. The government insisted on treating all of my company turnover as personal income even though I wasn't abusing tax and NI rules. Scrap one business plan.

    After a few years in permanent employment I'm back in the freelance arena with the same objectives. This kind of proposal reduces workforce flexibility. What we need instead is legislation that counters the trend of using lower paid contract staff as de facto permanent employees.

    At the root of this is the point that temporary workers should be just that. If a company has an open position and fills it with one or more temps over a period of time without offering any of them permanent employment, or advertising the role as permanent, it is morally suspect and the employer should be 'encouraged' to make the role permanent.

    Of course any such legislation would have to be carefully thought through to avoid circumvention.

    Hand in hand with this there needs to be absolute clarity over what is viewed as disguised employment and what is viewed as being in business on your own account. I don't want the revenue to turn around and retrospectively claim tax that I would otherwise use to grow a genuine business, neither should they be able to force employers to give permanent employee perks to people who are genuinely being employed temporarily. The real problem here is that many companies use temps as a cheap long term work force.

  32. Dax Farrer


    Seem to come across as antisocial loners with a penchant for violent behaviour and an unhealthy fixation on money.

    Just read the posts above, don't let your daughter marry one.

  33. Neil Wilson

    Simple solution

    The solution to all this is simple. Any business operating as a recruitment firm for temporary staff (an 'employment business' in the jargon - where they sit in the middle) must employ the individual directly on a contract of service (ie an employee) and be responsible for the individual they are hiring on all in the same legal entity.

    That would deal with the temps situation completely and provide protection to the voiceless thousands of low-level staff who operate in this market with no security whatsoever, generally appalling treatment and very poor pay.

    The alternative would be for the agents to get out of the middle of the relationship and again I would require that they can only place individuals on contracts of service if operating as an employment agent (as it is known in the jargon).

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Temp abuse in Greece

    As is mentioned, this is a EU law/proposal. In quite a few countries it seems that the temp employee "feature" is abused to get cheaper labor and "flexibility"-the ability to ditch the temp the minute you don't need him/her without any compensation. Additionally, it seems that to a lack of control, employers keep temps for large amounts of time, reaping the benefits.

    In Greece this is extremely common practice due to a lack of government control (i.e. no-one actually checks to see if a temp is employed for a long period of time). If the temp take the case to court, the employer is given a minor slap on the wrist, and the temp can be sure he/she will get "blacklisted" by employers everywhere for taking such a case to court. No more jobs for him/her.

    But why doesn't the state maintain tight control, it's simple: the government is using the same law for civil workers (there are a lot in Greece 10% of the population). I have friends which have been working as "temps" in the public sector for more than 3 years..

    This goes to show where this law aims at. If your country doesn't have a flaky gov't then it may be ineffectual or even detrimental, but in countries like Greece (e.g. Italy AFAIK) this may actually be a positive change.


  35. Mark

    re: I don't want these rights, either.

    Well don't take advantage of them then Ollie.

    'course forgoing Maternity leave isn't going to be much of a hardship, is it...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't trust the agency

    In my experience, temp agencies are lying bastards.

    And they let the government fiddle the statistics: is a temp job really comparable with a (potentially) permanent job, when you're comparing the number of people claiming unemployment benefit with the number of jobs available.

  37. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner

    So much for warm'n'fuzzy good intentions. What's the reality?

    A lot of you are comparing having a temp job with a permanent job.

    Maybe you should be thinking about a temp job versus no job?

  38. Rob Aley
    Thumb Up

    Small biz owner

    As the owner/MD of a small company I welcome these laws.

    Mind you, as I already understand that my business is built on the back on my employees and they are the most valuable asset it has, temps & part-timers are already given the same pay and conditions (except for contract length and working hours, as appropriate) as full-time permanent staff. So it won't really affect us.

    Those that see staff as another "utility" like electricity, broadband etc. to be turned on and off at wil,l at the minimum price, may well get hit hard. Maybe they'll learn the real value of people.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "The directive must still be passed into UK law."

    Surely you mean Rubber Stamped without question for our globalist masters.

    Since the UK Government seem to be nothing but a token gesture these days.

    But as for the laws its about time something happened for temp workers.

    Like a few people here I have worked as a temp, for a good few years in fact.

    And again as others have said, despite that I could do the job far better then the perms', was better trainned and qualified I was stuck doing the crappy jobs while some perm sat on their arse complaining about the temps Ironically enough.

    After a couple of years temping and it leading erm.. f@#king no where I decided that I would never work as a temp ever again. And it took along time to find someone who would hire me as for some reason if you have worked as a temp, even if youhave been in work practically on going for years with very few breaks, there seems to be this stigma about you.

    *\. Thats me hanging up my temp coat.

  40. Simon B

    since when is simple rights that everyone else has a burden?!

    Jon Taylor, Head of Employment at emw law, said: "With the UK labour market in such a fragile state and unemployment rising, the Government should seriously reconsider whether now is the right moment to be imposing additional burdens on businesses."

    Imposing EQUAL RIGHTS on temps shouldn't BE a burden!!

    "Undermining the cost savings and flexibility benefits of using temporary workers would be detrimental to all concerned."

    You mean loosing the ability to get cheap workers who haves no rights, no benefits,who you can treat like shite, would annoy a lot of companies.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Dax Farrer

    "Seem to come across as antisocial loners with a penchant for violent behaviour and an unhealthy fixation on money."

    That may be, but we're *rich* antisocial loners with a penchant for violent behaviour and an unhealthy fixation on money. :-)

    We could be worse and be city traders ;-)

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean I'll be paid less now?

    If I am a well paid contractor, earning substantially more than employees doing the equivalent work, then I should be able to choose to carry the risks. In the Netherlands, I take home about double what the equivalent local staff earn because of 1) skilled expat tax benefits; 2) I'm an independent contractor (a UK agency takes a cut, but once the contract's over, it's over); 3) plus I'm quite good at what I do and obviously worth the cost to the company or they wouldn't keep me .. I pay a payroll company a small percentage to handle my taxes and social security contributions.. I would find it extremely disturbing if this new directive impacts this arrangement. I realise that for many people contracting is seen as less than optimal, but for me, the flexibility of it - the so-long-as-it-suits-us-both arrangement - works great. I already see the inflexibility of the employment market negatively impacting many EU countries because skilled employees can usually get better money in other countries more easily. Maybe this is part of the plan - put every EU country on a more level playing field, to the detriment of those like me, and some of the companies currently enjoying the benefits of market flexibility. (Note: I'm really only against these laws where they're detrimental to the individual) If I want to sell my services for €1500/day full-time for a year (just an example), I should be able to without the company having to worry about being chased down for paternity leave payments or some-such (although it's perfectly fine for the company to require proof that I'm paying taxes etc., and in fact is probably a sensible legal requirement)

    Neil Wilson: I think rate caps should be mandated for agencies.. either you're a proper employee and getting the equivalent protection (and salary through benefits), or you're getting a decent share of the cash. Simple as that.. and going in as a temp for less than full time staff is ridiculous. I can guarantee that the company pays more and the agency just shafts the worker.

  43. Steve

    @ Dax Farrer

    I'm a UK contractor. Someone let me marry their daughter once and now I not only have 2 beautiful kids but I actually got to spend some proper quality time with each of them after they were born.

    But I do have a penchant for violent behavior and an unhealthy fixation on money.

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