Labour leader Ed Miliband has come under fire from REC chief Kevin Green and CBI policy director Katja Hall for remarks he made in the Independent on Sunday concerning pay between assignment (PBA) contracts, which he described as a “loophole” that Labour has pledged to close. The aim would be to prevent employers using PBAs to circumvent the EU’s Agency Workers Regulations, which guarantee temporary agency workers equal pay and conditions with permanent staff after 12 weeks.
Referring to Mr Miliband’s comments as “wholly misleading”, Mr Green pointed out that PBA arrangements (or Swedish derogation) had been agreed during consultations between the previous Labour administration, unions and businesses in 2010. Workers on PBA contracts are employed by their agencies on a permanent basis, which affords them greater security and protection against unfair dismissal, Mr Green noted.
He also dismissed the Labour leader’s pledge to ban recruiters from exclusive overseas advertising as “a ridiculous straw man”, adding that Mr Miliband had never produced any evidence that this was happening despite being asked. It was, Mr Green said, a “slur” on the recruitment industry, which assisted over 600,000 people to find permanent jobs in 2013 and placed 1.1 million temps in work on any given day.
PBA arrangements, of course, are also used by skilled independent professionals such as Umbrella Company Employees and others in the UK’s freelance contracting community; if anything, these professionals command pay rates better than their permanent counterparts.
Ms Hall also condemned the pledge, saying: “This is perfectly legal, was supported by trade unions at the time, and also gives employees security of income between jobs.”