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Temporary Workers and Equal Employee Benefits

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 3 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Temporary Workers Employees Government

Temporary workers or temps have often lost out when it comes to employee benefits and rights. This is now set to change with the new government plans to give equal rights to temporary workers.

Temporary Workers in the UK

The UK has the highest number of temporary workers in Europe. There are 1.3 million temps working the UK; that’s around 5% of the UK workforce. In countries such as Germany and France temp employees make up around 1% of the workforce. Temporary workers have always played an important part in the workplace, and yet they have often lagged behind in terms of equal benefits. New plans outlined by the government should see the equal benefits and rights issue addressed but not until 2011.

Temporary Workers to Receive Equal Rights

Many temporary workers are employed with organisations for years without achieving the same rights as permanent staff. Under the new government plans any temporary worker who has been employed for 12 weeks will receive the same rights as permanent employees. Equal rights for temporary staff will include holidays and pay and other conditions afforded to permanent employees. Employee benefits such as childcare and transport services through employers will also be included in the new government plans.

Restricted Employee Benefits for Temporary Workers

There are still many employee benefits available to permanent staff that temporary workers do not receive. Maternity leave, adoption leave and paternity leave are not presently available to temporary workers. Employee benefits such as access to on-site gyms and crèche facilities are not always available to temp workers. Many employers do recognise the importance of temporary workers and do not restrict them from using such facilities. The new government plans should mean that these facilities, benefits, and perks are a right for all temporary workers.

Recruitment Agencies and Rights for Temporary Workers

Recruitment agencies are one of the biggest employers of temporary workers in the UK. Recruitment agencies already provide their workers with a number of employee benefits and perks. These benefits will differ between the agencies but will usually include accrued holidays, holiday pay, and sick leave. Employees who are considering using a recruitment agency should always compare agencies to ensure they receive the optimum benefits.

Permanent Jobs for Temporary Workers

Temporary workers will be entitled to information on permanent vacancies under the new government guidelines. This will mean temporary workers are given the same rights to apply for permanent vacancies within their workplace. All of these new benefits and rights are only planned for agency workers who work for more than 12 weeks at a company. Workers who are self employed, do not use recruitment agencies or work less than 12 weeks have not been figured into the government plans.

Pensions Benefits for Temporary Workers

Pension schemes have often been a sticky point for temporary workers. The government plans exclude pension schemes from the new directive. The government does say that temporary workers will be covered by the Pension Act 2008. This means that in 2012 temporary workers will qualify for pension schemes and employers will have to make contributions to the pension. Some recruitment agencies do actually have pension schemes set up for their employees.

New Temporary Workers Benefits

The intended equal rights and employee benefits for temporary workers will include:

  • Equal holidays and holiday pay
  • Access to employee facilities such as childcare facilities and transport services
  • The right to see permanent vacancies advertised within the company they work for
  • Access to on site employee facilities and schemes such as fitness facilities and discounted employee canteens
  • Equal entitlement to sick leave and sick pay
  • Access to social functions and facilities such as Christmas parties and company social clubs
  • Rights to antenatal appointments
  • Equal rights to maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave
Not all employers are happy about the new government directive for temporary workers. A recent survey claimed that if these laws do go through, as many as two thirds of employers would cut back on the use of temporary workers. Undoubtedly these new laws may make employers think twice before taking on a temporary worker. But for the 1.3 million temporary workers in the UK it does seem like a step in the right direction towards equality within the workplace.

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