Cameron might fight EU over Agency Workers rules
Posted Sep 6, 2011
An article in The Telegraph today suggests that David Cameron is increasingly concerned about the impact the Agency Workers Regulations could have on the fragile economic recovery.
According to the paper, the PM has secretly sought legal advice on how the impact of the AWR can be moderated, either by watering down the current provisions, or by refusing to implement the rules at all.
How will the AWR affect industry?
It is thought that implementation of the Directive from 1st October 2011 will cost UK businesses up to £2bn per year, with employers becoming reluctant to hire agency workers due to the increased rights they receive after 12 weeks on the job.
Alongside equal pay and the same basic working conditions as other full-time workers, qualifying individuals will also be entitled to working time entitlements, night work, annual leave and rest periods.
The Department of BIS estimated that over 1m workers would gain new rights as a result of the implementation, and the average small firm would have to pay an extra £2,493 each year to comply with the new rules.
What are the Government's options?
The article claims that the Prime Minister's office hired Martin Howe QC to provide confidential legal advice on the Government's future options over the agency workers rules; to water down and delay implementation of the AWR, to create new laws which would overwrite the EU demands, and even to ignore the EU directive completely.
The main problem David Cameron would have in watering down, or ignoring the Directive completely, would be the opposition he would face from the Liberal Democrats and trade unions. Amusingly, the article suggests that the French would be far less concerned about ignoring EU law than the British who always seem determined to do everything by the book.
Response from recruitment industry
The REC has already responded to the speculation which has arisen as a result of the article's publication:
"The REC would of course welcome any measures that would make life easier for the recruitment industry. However, it is unlikely that there will be any significant changes at this late stage and the REC will be urgently writing to the Prime Minister directly seeking clarity from him on whether there is any substance to today's media reports."
You can read the full Telegraph article here.
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