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Agency workers ‘denied equal pay’ – TUC

The TUC is launching a formal complaint against Government for failing to guarantee equal pay for agency staff.

It has emerged that agency staff are being paid up to £135 a week less than permanent staff for doing the same job. EU regulations introduced in 2011 entitle agency staff to equal treatment, pay and conditions after 12 weeks, but new research suggests one in six is missing out due to a loophole.

Known as Swedish derogation, this means employers can pay agency staff less than full-time workers provided the agency pays them for at least four weeks when it is unable to find them work.

The TUC is calling for government to uphold the Temporary Agency Workers Directive and guarantee equal pay for these staff.

The findings follow increasing criticism of ‘zero-hour’ contracts, where employers are not required to guarantee work for staff. The Government is currently decided whether to hold a consultation into potential changes to employment law covering these contracts.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: “The recent agency worker regulations are being undermined by a growing number of employers who are putting staff on contracts that deny them equal pay. Most people would be appalled if the person working next to them was paid more for doing the same job, and yet agency workers on these contracts can still be treated unfairly.

“Swedish derogation contracts are just one more example of a new and growing type of employment that offers no job security, poor career progression and often low pay.”

And Billy Hayes, the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: “Some of the lowest-paid workers in the UK are being cheated out of their rights to equal pay by cynical employers intent on keeping their wages low.”

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