Deadline for implementation imminent with no agreement in place

Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon, has today (Thursday) called for trade unions to stop being reckless and agree a qualifying period to the EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Heydon said: ‘The trade union movement is playing Russian roulette with businesses and jobs in this country by failing to agree a qualifying period before the Directive comes into effect. This is currently one of the biggest issues facing Irish businesses and there is a real lack of clarity on the detail that will have a significant impact on them.

“The EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive gives agency staff the same benefits as directly employed full time staff from their first day of employment, unless a qualifying period can be agreed by the social partners. This directive is due to be transposed into Irish law next Monday, December 5th. The directive came into law in Britain on October 1st, where a 12 week qualifying period or derogation was agreed.

“The implementation of this EU directive in its current format will put many agency jobs at risk, as some employers require the flexibility of agency staff for seasonal work. The State is the biggest employer of agency staff, including the health service which uses agency staff as a mechanism for dealing with the moratorium on recruitment of staff. It has been reported that this directive could potentially cost the HSE an additional €33m if implemented in its present form.

“The flexibility of our workforce is a strong selling point for multinationals that operate here. On a day when further increases in the live register are announced, we cannot implement a directive which hampers businesses and threatens even more job losses. The unions need to face up to the implications of this directive without a qualifying period, resulting in it becoming more expensive to do business in Ireland which will ultimately cost jobs. The unions need to do the right thing by the country and introduce a qualifying period.”


Contact: Martin Heydon 087-6262546

Notes to Editor

The EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive is due to be transposed into Irish Law by 5th December 2011. No bill or draft legislation has yet been published on this topic.

The directive aims to protect agency workers by applying the same terms and conditions to them as to similar direct employees from day 1 of their employment.

The directive allows for a qualifying period or delayed qualifying period before the equal treatment must apply if this can be agreed between the Social partners.

To date no agreement has been reached.

The directive came into force in Britain and Northern Ireland on 1st October with a 12 week qualifying period included before equal treatment applies.

It is estimated there are 35,000 to 40,000 agency workers in Ireland. The government is one of the largest employers of agency workers in the state and will face significant additional costs once this directive is implemented.

Economist Jim Power has carried out an economic assessment of the directive for the National Recruitment Federation. He believes the Directive if implemented in its current form will damage the flexibility of the workforce, increase costs of employment and ultimately cost jobs.