Friday, 22 February 2008

New Labour Back bencher threat to agency staff

One wonders if the MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, New Labour's Andrew Miller, is actually intent on damaging the UK economy, or if it is only a side effect of his attempt to grab more influence for the unions.

Supported (of course) by the trade unions he has tabled a private members bill to force the same rights/benefits as full time employees receive on agency staff, such a sick pay.

The union said there should be a "level playing field" with permanently employed people.

I have often heard full time employees express slightly jealous amazement when they find out what agency staff are paid by comparison.

The fact is that agency staff usually get a higher pay scale than permanent staff. This generally makes up at least the financial difference for sick pay and annual leave, etc. that they don’t get.

They usually also get a premium to make up for the lack of job security, as they generally fill posts where full time employees are off long term sick, having children, or the post is unable to be filled. They are also used when capacity suddenly and temporarily needs to be expanded for a project.

These people tend to be independent and avoid union membership. They also tend to take far less sick leave; so can spend that portion of their wage as they choose.

If they had the same rights and conditions as full time employees they would no longer be competitive, or of any use to an employer, in the capacity they are generally used in. It would not be economical to pay them the same rates as they get now.

If these rights were introduced then this sector would become much less competitive and be markedly reduced. The knock on is that all the businesses that make use of them to fill in would be less efficient and less cost effective.

This would in turn force them to look for redundancies more often and make full time employees positions a little less secure. It would of course strengthen the union’s position.