agency labour

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Is labour that is provided by a private recruitment bureau or employment agency. The traditional function of such labour ( temps) has been to cover for absence or provide additional support for short periods. There has been a movement in recent years, however, towards the supply of agency labour on a longer-term basis, known as insourcing. Agency labour has grown rapidly since the early 1990s and partly for this reason there have been a number of initiatives to regulate the industry and protect its workers. In 1997, the International Labour Organization passed a new Convention (No. 181) and Recommendation (No. 188) on Private Employment Agencies and a European directive on agency labour was proposed by the European Commission in 2002. The central element of the latter was a proposal that a temporary agency worker should receive equal treatment to that of a comparator worker directly employed in the user enterprise. Opposition to this principle from European employers and a number of member governments, including Britain, has so far prevented the directive from becoming law. Partly in anticipation of EU developments, the UK government issued new regulations for the private recruitment industry in 2000, the key feature of which was to clarify the employment status of agency labour. In most cases agency workers are to be treated as employees of the supplying agency and therefore are entitled to the legal protection conferred by employee status.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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