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Call to delay new rules on temporary workers' rights

The introduction of rules giving additional employment rights to temporary workers should be postponed until 2011, employment groups have argued.

Under the EU directive on temporary staff, agency workers will be entitled to some of the basic employment rights of permanent staff after they have been in the same job for 12 weeks.

However, David Yeandle, head of employment policy at Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF), has urged the government to use the three-year implementation period set out in the directive and not to implement the rules until 5 December 2011.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that, while it would be helpful for the provisions of the directive to be on the statute book so that employers would know roughly how they worked, the new regulations should not be introduced any earlier than necessary.

Mr Emmott added: “Until we are clearer what exactly the government has in mind to legislate, people will assume the worst about what form the regulations will take.”

Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, argued that the rules must be framed in such a way that they do not prevent firms from recruiting temporary staff.

He said: “Employers fear that this will become a bureaucratic activity that could harm the UK’s economy and flexible labour market.”

The government is due to launch its first public consultation on the Directive before Easter.