After many years of political wrangling, the European Parliament has finally approved a Directive giving new rights to temporary agency workers. The Directive must now be implemented into each Member State’s national laws within three years.

The Directive should be accessible via this link as soon as it is available in its approved form.

The Directive provides that temporary workers will be entitled to equal treatment in terms of basic working and employment conditions including pay, holidays, maternity leave, rest periods and working time. It will ensure equal access to collective facilities including canteens, transport services and child care facilities and equal access to training.

The Directive provides for this equal treatment to apply to temporary workers from day one, except where the Social Partners in a Member State agree otherwise. The UK regulations which will implement the Directive will incorporate this exception. Earlier this year the Government, the CBI and the TUC agreed that temporary workers in the UK should have the right to equal treatment after 12 weeks of employment, rather than from their first day.

It is estimated that as a result of the Directive becoming law, over three million temporary agency workers across the EU will have a right to equal treatment with permanent employees and will benefit from better protection for their working conditions. In the UK, the Directive has been criticised by business groups, and in particular the IT industry, where there are fears that increased protection will deter employers from taking on agency workers.