Saturday, February 23, 2008

Welcome bill for temporary workers' rights

I have great sympathy for Andrew Miller's Bill to increase the rights of temporary workers. I have known examples where people have worked in the same temporary job for years without holiday or sickness pay. That's Dickensian. Thankfully, the better agencies now give a good set of rights to workers after three months of "temping".

I agree with Lorely Burt that the bill, which the LibDems supported in its second stages, needs amendment before a third reading. One of the crucial points which needs to be worked out is the cut-off - i.e when do temporary workers get the same rights as permanent ones ? If it is from day one, as proposed, this would actually be better than permanent workers, who usually have to work for a six month probationary period before they get sickness rights etc.

And, as Lorely sensibly pointed out in yesterday's debate, there are many contractors who are paid a premium rate, which comes as part and parcel of their temporary status. This can apply to nurses as much as IT consultants and the rest. Some form of accomodation would have to be worked out to avoid, presumably, a huge drop in pay for these types of workers.

So, generally, I warmly welcome this initiative, but the details need to be bashed out with co-operation from unions and bodies across working life.

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