The trade union body TUC has publicly declared its support of the controversial Agency Workers’ Directive. The TUC have asked the government to make sure that on implementation of this EU directive, all agency workers are protected from exploitation and receive equal pay, holidays and working hours. The Directive has caused much concern amongst freelancers and contractors who fear that their services may be less attractive to clients as a result of these new measures.

The TUC are basing much of their support of the Directive on a survey they have carried out. They interviewed more than 2,700 temp workers, including those who have worked through agencies over the past year. Their finding showed that many temp workers have felt discriminated against in the workplace. 33% said that they were paid less than employed staff for doing the same job. 46% said that the received less holiday entitlement than their permanent counterparts.

There was also confusion regarding statutory entitlements as an agency worker. 75% of those interviewed said that that agency workers were entitled to less redundancy pay and 70% felt that they were entitled to less maternity pay.

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: “While agency working has a legitimate role to play within the economy, TUC research has exposed widespread mistreatment of agency workers across the UK. Agency workers have told the TUC they regularly find themselves with less basic pay, holiday pay and entitlement, redundancy pay, maternity pay and access to training and childcare than directly employed staff doing the same job.”

He continued, “The government must introduce the new regulations in the Directive quickly to ensure that temps are protected and that the exploitation of agency workers by rogue agencies ends as soon as possible. The new laws must provide real protection and any loopholes which would allow unscrupulous employers to avoid the law and continue to mistreat agency workers must be closed.”

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