The concerns regarding the forthcoming Temporary Agency Workers Directive continue. Its aim is to award agency workers the same rights that permanent employees have. APSCo, the agency group, has advised the government that freelance workers working through umbrella companies or personal service companies and earning three times the National Minimum Wage should be exempt from the directive. High earning freelance workers are apprehensive that this European Directive will have an impact on the work offered to them.
This directive must become UK law by 2011 and the government is currently consulting on its implementation. If they accept APSCo’s proposal, freelancers earning upwards of £17.40 per hour or £33,930 per year would be excluded from this legislation.
Chief Executive of APSCo, Ann Swain, said, “The Government has acknowledged that this legislation is intended to enhance the rights of ‘vulnerable’ workers and is receptive to the idea of excluding professional level temporary workers. It has indicated to APSCo that an exclusion based on an income threshold which is a multiple of the National Minimum Wage could be an appealing situation.”
She continues, “We feel that three times the National Minimum Wage is about the right income level for the exclusion. It means that about 90% of workers placed by APSCo members are outside the scope of the legislation. This would be a workable solution which would be easy to understand and enforce.”
The Agency Workers Directive aims to give agency workers working on the same assignment for twelve weeks or more ‘equal treatment’ to permanent members of staff. ‘Equal treatment’ is likely to include pay and basic working conditions.