The British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation today held a joint Parliamentary briefing for MPs ahead of the second reading of Andrew Miller’s Private Members' Bill on temporary agency workers, planned for February 22nd. If successful, the Bill will have significant implications for businesses and the employment industry. The briefing was designed to provide MPs and journalists with an opportunity to better understand the very serious concerns that businesses and agencies have raised with the four representative organisations.
Commenting on the issue of temporary agency workers, Chris Hannant, Head of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said:
"The UK labour market's flexibility has been one of the major reasons the economy has performed strongly and created so many jobs over the last decade. The proposals in Mr Miller's Private Members' Bill will undermine many of the advantages of this flexibility. This will not only damage employers but it will reduce job opportunities for those people that the Bill seeks to protect."
Tom Hadley, Director of External Relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation continues:
“REC recognises that all temporary workers should be treated fairly in the workplace. Their contribution is invaluable to thousands of businesses every year. However our recruitment agency members fear that the equal treatment bill would simply add complications into the placement of temps when survey after survey shows that they are satisfied with their work. The basic premise of the Bill, that temps are systematically exploited, is out of touch with reality. The Unions should think twice before jeopardising these jobs.”
Graeme Leach, Director of Policy and Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, added:
“At a time when most other economies are looking to increase the flexibility of their labour markets in order to preserve competitiveness, it would be foolhardy for the UK to head in the opposite direction. Of course there is a tiny minority of situations where agency workers are unfairly treated, but this Bill would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. What we need is better enforcement of existing safeguards, not even more legislation. Responsible companies want to see cowboy operators tackled just as much as anyone else does.”
Andrew Cave, Deputy Head of Public Affairs for the Federation of Small Businesses said:
“This Bill is based on the naive, and somewhat patronising, assumption that ‘one size fits all’. It also flies in the face of clear evidence that current arrangements are popular with the majority of temporary workers. For small businesses, temporary agency workers provide the flexibility that allows them to survive, grow and innovate. It is this flexibility that keeps the UK economy responsive to change, whilst at the same time offering an excellent entry point into the jobs market.”