Remember how the agency workers directive was going to take 500,000 jobs? Yeah, well…

Alex Hern reviews the effect of the Agency Workers Directive, and finds that the right were so very wrong about what it would do to jobs.

Far from the right-wing doom-mongering when it was introduced, the first month after the introduction of the EU agency workers directive has shown an increase in the number of temporary positions available.

The new regulations ensure that agency workers receive the same rights over pay, holiday, working hours, overtime, and certain bonuses as permanent workers after 12 weeks, avoiding ‘permatemp’ exploitation.

Figures from KMPG’s monthly report on jobs (pdf) show that temporary billings have risen by a four per cent month on month.

The report concludes:

Agencies’ billings from temporary/contract staff employment continued to rise in October, in line with the trend seen since August 2009. Although still modest, the rate of growth picked up slightly from that recorded in September. Growth of temp billings was generally attributed by panellists to higher client demand for short-term workers.

A four per cent increase is a far cry from that predicted by the economic masterminds at the Telegraph, who claimed that there was likely to be a thirty three percent decrease.

The Telegraph gleefully reported:

Almost half a million agency workers could lose their jobs just before Christmas as one in three employers plans to sack temps ahead of new rules kicking in, research has revealed.

A new report by law firm Allen & Overy, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, warns a third of employers are planning to avoid the new rules by ending agency workers’ contracts in their eleventh week – just before the 12-week qualifying period takes over.

Conservative Home were at least slightly more… well, conservative in their figures:

As a result of the new rules, thousands of young workers will be faced with either being out of a job or in search of a new assignment within the next three months. New Open Europe research estimates that, in the UK, around 28,000 temporary employment contracts for those aged between 16 and 24 are under threat.

The CBI cleverly avoided giving hard numbers, presumably believing that if you’re vague, you can’t be proved wrong. Unfortunately, if you say something will go down and it goes up, no amount of vagueness stops you looking silly.

They brayed:

“At a time when we should be nurturing companies and helping them to grow and create jobs, these regulatory changes are simply counter productive.

“There couldn’t be a worse time to bring in this unwelcome Brussels Directive.

The new rules will still act as a brake on jobs. The Government must take the first opportunity to remove unnecessary gold-plating or reform the directive.”

Yet again, the liberalisers have been proved wrong. It turns out that the best way to protect jobs is to protect jobs.

See also:

What has Europe ever done for us? Well…Tony Burke, November 5th 2011

There is a role for the Left in the EU, if it wants itDr Dionyssis G. Dimitrakopoulos, October 29th 2011

Eurozone break up will be a disaster for jobs, growth and the environmentGeorge Irvin, October 26th 2011

New rights for agency workers point to a better economy for allDaniel Elton, August 26th 2011

Tories defend banks against Barroso, Europe, and reasonAlex Hern, September 30th 2011

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