Cameron may overrule Cable on Agency Workers Directive

PM concerned about predicted £2bn annual cost to British businesses


David Cameron may attempt to dilute new EU employment laws regarding temporary workers’ rights, in a bid to lessen the impact on British businesses.

A report in The Daily Telegraph claims the prime minister’s office has privately commissioned legal advice on the Agency Workers Directive, which would give temporary agency workers who have been employed for 12 weeks or more the same pay, holiday and maternity leave rights as full-time employees.

It is thought that the directive, which is due to be introduced next month, would impact more than a million temporary staff, and many government insiders fear it could derail the fragile economic recovery.

Experts believe business secretary Vince Cable will “gold plate” the directive with his own additional regulations – even though the government has pledged to cut red tape, and Cable’s own department has carried out research showing the regulations could cost British businesses an extra £2bn a year.

Now The Daily Telegraph claims Cameron’s senior policy advisor has engaged Martin Howe QC, an expert on EU law, to offer confidential advice on the new legislation.

According to the report, Howe has advised the prime minister that the directive could be moderated – with some of Cable’s additional rules scrapped. Cameron has even been told that he could block the legislation altogether if he wished – although he would have to pay a multi-million pound fine to the European Commission instead.

In an official statement from Downing Street, a spokesperson said: “We are now looking at every part of employment law as part of the red tape challenge. We want to do everything we can to help employers and drive growth.”

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