back to article Agency worker rights should be set in comparison with staff, says gov

Employers should compare agency workers to members of its staff who do "broadly similar work" in order to establish what rights the temporary worker is entitled to, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has said. There is no obligation for companies to make a comparison to establish the workers' rights, but …


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  1. There's a bee in my bot net

    So short contracts then?

    Would that not just mean a lot of contracts/temporary jobs will be less than the qualifying period?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    We can just ignore this nonsense, right?

    1. Guus Leeuw
      Paris Hilton

      RE: Contractors

      Dear Sir,

      I surely hope so, though many of the agencies for IT contractors do want to act as an employment organisation...

      Is not quite clear to me...


      Guus Leeuw

      1. Anonymous Coward
        IT Angle


        Contractors seem to be squarely in scope here.

        "Temporary workers who put their earnings through a limited company do not lose their right to equal treatment on working and employment conditions, BIS said."

        Sounds like most contractors I know.

  3. Alien8n

    BMW could learn from this

    Did a stint temping at BMW several years ago. Not sure what it's like now but back then you had agency staff who had been there for over 4 years on temp contracts and earning 20% less than guys who had been made permanent after a year. Add to that the ridiculous position regarding illness where if you were ill twice within 3 months you were out of a job. I actually witnessed one person vomiting into the bins rather than be sent home because he'd been off ill with flu the month before.

    In contrast another firm I worked at would send home anyone who had even the slightest cough or sniffle rather than allow them into the factory as the factory floor was a clean room so anyone working while ill could very easily infect an entire shift.

  4. David Neil


    Will it address the issue of an worker employed by the agency, pay processed by the umbrella company, posted to a client site to work at their direction, and then is told they have no right to paternity leave as the client, umbrella co and the agency all say it's not our problem?

  5. fridaynightsmoke

    *Puts on flame-proof pants*

    How about, I dunno; deciding whether you agree to do a job based on the pay and conditions presented to you on application, and then getting on with it; instead of whining later when the job you were happy to take compares unfavourably with someone else's job?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      So you'll be happy to take a pay cut...

      ...if that's the new 'going rate'?

  6. Graham Bartlett

    Similar work, not similar conditions

    Pray god this isn't going to be the successor to IR35, the most idiotic legislation since Henry the Eighth decided to tax beards.

  7. The Jase



    This may stop the likes of a big blue company having the manpower of "temps", who are at sites for years, yet are grossly underpaid compared to the permies.

    And these "temps" are often lied to about being taken on and pay rises.

    A certain temp left them for an 8 grand pay increase.

    1. PrivateCitizen
      Thumb Down

      A certain blue company

      I doubt it - it is too engrained into its corporate approach...

      (need an evil IBM icon)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    But - IR35

    How does this impact the IR35 tests?

    Surely being treated the same as a permanent employee means you are inside IR35....

    Or, is this just a cunning ploy by the evil Revenue to capture more and more people with IR35?

  9. Anonymous Coward


    "making sure agency staff are paid as much as directly employed staff" Made me laugh!

    In some company's IT departments the disparity is wholeheartedly in the opposite direction, i.e. permies working next to contractors on twice their salary (Albeit with marginally less job security).

  10. Lord Gaga

    yet more red tape

    We can all look at this as a contractor vs not scenario and complain that permanent staff are getting a better deal, or that employers are basically hiring permament staff whilst avoiding giving them proper employment rights so they can downsize without notice - keeping 'temps' on for years.

    In my experience, contractors are actually paid more, not less and I know many folk who've gone down the contracting route for this reason. The permanent temps issue is different, and a fair point - but these rules won't deal with that. What they will do is make hiring people tougher, which will cost jobs and opportunities for the whole economy. Its just more expensive red tape, it won't make jobs, it won't make it fairer, but it will cost money and keep employment tribunals and lawyers in pocket via legal aid - stiff the taxpayer whilst shafting the economy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    The underlying premise of this beurocratic line of though is flawed - it aims to create equality, but what it generates is mediocrity or worse still generally low standards. Apply this thinking to any professional sector: two surgeons stitch up to patients. Doctor X's patients die. Doctor's Y's live. Are they equal, should they be paid the same? Two plumbers, two salesmen, two electricians, two footballers, two politicians etc etc etc. Equality of performance is BS. In every single walk of life.

    Take the logic to extreme, and bald men should be able to sue their hirsuit counterparts because they get the girls.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Contractors vs Permies, the war continues

      I think this article is talking mostly about Agency temp staff not the self employed contractor running his or her own limited company.

      I agree with a large amount of what Lord Gaga says, with some exceptions.

      1 - Contractors are (or should) be given a higher hourly rate than a permanent employee but out of this the contractor has to cover the costs of business, corporation tax, holiday pay, sickness pay etc. Ltd Company contractors can be very well paid but often this is at the expense of holidays, pensions etc., all things a permanent employee takes for granted.

      2 - Temp staff are frequently badly paid compared to permanent employees - IBM is a classic example where temps can work there for years without any of the benefits of being an employee, on less per day than the other employees and doing an equal or better job. From the companies perspective it makes sense to keep them as temps so that they can maximise profits and give their shareholders the greatest value.

      Its up to you if you think this is "right" or "wrong" but that is the crux of the issue (as I see it).

      Where I think there is the biggest flaw is:

      "Apply this thinking to any professional sector: two surgeons stitch up to patients. Doctor X's patients die. Doctor's Y's live. Are they equal, should they be paid the same?"

      If we accept the argument that they shouldnt, then it suddenly makes massive financial sense for Doctor Y to start screening his patients and refusing any who do not have a very, very high chance of successful outcome. This is not good for patient health.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You either need the work doing or you don't

      All the red tape comes from the complexity created by employers trying to avoid the reponsibilities that go with employing people. Surgeons don't need hundreds of laws to tell them how to do their job, but HR shite and their bosses do! Go figure.

      Maybe a limit on the number of agency staff based on the need for temporary work in a given industry would be a better idea?

  11. yellowhat


    I think the government should keep their noses out. On several occassions I have got a temp job which has led to a fulltime one. It is a very satisfying feeling. Every time the government interferes they get it wrong and who will pay to police this ridiculous piece of legislation? Thats right you, me and every other taxpayer!

  12. Why Not?
    Thumb Down

    Will they never learn?

    Poor abused temps exist because there is too much competition for jobs.

    If you remove cheap labour (Clue stop & reverse excessive immigration and make sure people working aren't also claiming JSA) then pay & conditions will improve.

    If you legislate companies will take that as a minimum and just fall to that (or just below given half a chance).

    The administration of this is going to be a nightmare and we will see a slew of tribunals (e.g. I'm a minority temp who didn't get instant access to the recycling bin I'm going to sue). The rest of the temps will see their 10 -30% risk premium slashed to the same as permanent wages without the 'security'.

    Let the market decide, employers wouldn't be able to get away with this if there was a shortage of decent workers. New Liebour created a cheap workforce to keep inflation down, the Con-Dem party refuse to grasp this nettle and every working person is paying for it. See Gate Gourmet for a perfect example.

    If you really want to stop abuse of staff then set the standard redundancy payments higher unless the UK company is actually really losing money and forcing companies to gain permission before making people redundant.

    Set redundancy at a month for each year of service. That would stop most of the big companies having a pointless reshuffle annually so the overseas CEO can have a bigger bonus. Fewer staff displaced would mean fewer staff willing or forced into temporary work so less competition for jobs. It might also bring back real sacking of staff who are incompetent.

    Also this would have the benefit of getting the government involved when the company starts to go to the wall so they can make sure the company pays the tax before buying off the directors and doing a 'Pheonix'.

    Can we have a 'Gordon is a moron' icon please? I know he isn't in charge any more but its still his mess.

  13. Trevor Marron

    All the peeps saying it is a Revenue scam or the Government should butt-out...

    This is EU legislation, not UK. We don't have a choice. Agencies are desperately trying to find a way out of this but the legislation is quite tight.

    The 12 week period referred to is any work in any week, and any week in a rolling 52 week period counts as a week. Or at least that is how it has been explained to me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Surely agency workers earn the same as full-time residents anyway?

    The difference s that the agency snaffles 50% of that just to -ahem- cough! cough! cover admin costs?

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