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Government to consult on implementation of EU directive extending agency workers' rights

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The Government has announced the setting up of a consultation process on giving agency workers the same rights as permanent staff.

In a statement employment relations minister Pat McFadden said the proposals in the Temporary Agency Workers Directive would boost the rights of agency workers and allow more flexibility for temps as well as employers.

But Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), warns if the implementation of the EU directive on agency workers is poorly drafted it could unleash "a regulatory wrecking ball through the UK's jobs market".

He said: "Over a million temporary and contract workers are on assignment each week and it is crucial to ensure the equal treatment measures do not reduce employment opportunities.

"After what has essentially been a political debate in Brussels it is now time to look at the practicalities of making the directive work in the UK."

Kieran O'Keefe, head of European representation at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), added: "The success of the UK economy over recent years has been down to our flexible labour market. While the economy is weak, this is not the time to further reduce flexibility.

"Implementation of this directive should be delayed until the last possible date. The Government's priority should be to honour its commitment to move a million people back into work and it must make sure this directive does not undermine that."