An estimated one in six agency workers in the UK are paid up to GBP 135 weekly less than permanent workers performing the same job for the same company. Under the UK transposition of the EU Directive on temporary agency work, the loophole known as “Swedish derogation” allows employers to circumvent the equal pay requirement for agency workers after 12 weeks on the job by simply making them permanent employees of the ‘temporary’ agency.
Equal treatment does not apply, provided these workers are offered 4 weeks’ pay at the national minimum wage when there is no work.
Employers responded to the new law in 2011 by immediately moving thousands of ‘temporary’ workers onto permanent agency contracts (see Entrenching inequality). Since then, economic ‘recovery’ in the UK has seen a sharp increase in Swedish derogation and zero-hours contracts.
The national center TUC will be filing a formal complaint against its government under EU procedures.