· 2 min read · Features

Up Front: Hot topic - temporary workers - Should temps have the same rights as full-time staff?

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Last month it was leaked that the Government is considering setting up a commission to examine the rights of agency workers, a week after the Court of Appeal ruled that, in most cases, temporary workers do not have the same rights as permanent staff. The Court said it was up to parliament, not the judiciary, to make changes to the law.

The Government believes that increasing agency workers' rights would bebad for business. So should temps have the same rights as theircolleagues who are employed on permanent contracts?

NO - TOM HANDLEY, Director, external relations Recruitment andEmployment Confederation

This court judgement was a good one. Workers do need rights and they doneed to be protected but, from a practical perspective, they should nothave the same rights as full-time employees. Temporary work is differentfrom full-time work and the relationship is with the agency not the endemployer. It is a convenient and quick way into the labour market. Butif the process becomes bureaucratic organisations may stop usingtemporary workers, which would not be good for employers or temps. Ourstudies show that temps are very satisfied with their currentconditions, so I'm not even certain what the new legislation is tryingto fix anyway. I'm not sure if unions have even read the European AgencyWorkers' Directive. It all just seems like a political stick with whichto beat the Government.

YES - DAVE PRENTIS, General secretary Unison

All workers should have the right to equal treatment and the Governmentshould legislate to protect employees. Temporary and agency workers arenot currently equal under the law. They routinely put up with less pay.They receive only statutory sick pay and holidays, no pension ortraining. With no contracts they can be fired at will when work driesup. The only winners are the employers and agencies that save money byreplacing permanent members of staff with long-term temps. This drivesdown skills and wages - benefiting no one. Agencies in the UK areunregulated - they exploit workers by charging illegal fees for healthand safety equipment or for meals and uniforms. We can afford to paytemps properly and we must. It will not put an end to workingtemporarily, as evidence from the market for temporary nursesproves.

NO - ROBIN COOPER, HR director, UK Electricals

Whether an individual is with us for a few hours or for several months,they should enjoy basic employment rights and be treated fairly. Andfrom a UK Electricals perspective, given our seasonal need for temporarysupport, it makes good business sense to offer a reasonable base rateand other incentives. That said, at the same time as we are employingpeak season temporary staff, our permanent staff are working extra hoursand taking no holidays and deserve to be rewarded. We still need to seedifferentiation with specific initiatives to reward permanent staff forloyalty or for one-off events. We need to provide a modern rewardstructure that engages and empowers them and encourages great customerservice. On balance, therefore, we need to spend our flexible pot onpermanent staff where practical.