The government is reviewing an EU directive, agreed by the last government, that places agency drivers on equal footing with permanent drivers after 12 weeks employment.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has called for this period to be increased to six months.
Last month, David Cameron said he was against implementing the directive but a government spokesman says: “All member states are required to bring the directive into force by 5 December 2011.”
Under an agreement between the TUC and CBI, the directive will give agency workers an entitlement to equal treatment after 12 weeks in a job. This covers basic working and employment conditions that would apply if the worker had been recruited directly to do the same job. Occupational social security schemes are outside the provisions.
“The government is aware of concerns in the business community about some aspects of regulation laid before the election but will need to balance those with possible risks of re-opening the package as a whole,” says a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. “It is currently considering the way forward.”
“We would like to see 12 weeks extended to six months,” says Ruth Pott, RHA director of employment affairs, “Transport firms booking now for Christmas may get close to the 12 weeks.”
She adds that agency drivers already get many of the benefits of employees such as holiday entitlement; health and safety protection and paid NI contributions. “They generally get a higher hourly rate because they don’t get all the other perks. It’s a flexible way of working that is very helpful to the wider economy. An unforeseen consequence of more regulation could be to put employers off as it becomes too difficult.”