Tory ministers have been accused of “over promising and under delivering” after the closing of a loophole that allows agency workers to be underpaid was delayed for a further two years.
The delay was exposed by Labour MP Stephanie Peacock on Monday (March 25) after she submitted a written question to the government on the matter.
It makes a mockery of business secretary Greg Clark’s promises earlier this month to reconsider the timing, as well as Theresa May’s attempts to woo Labour MPs to support her Brexit deal with pledges on workers’ rights.
Although agency workers are supposed to receive equal treatment with permanent staff, bosses can weasel their way out of the regulations by using “pay between assignment” contracts.
The loophole means that agencies can be classed as the employer even if staff members are permanently located in one workplace.
The government’s website states that workers on such contracts are “not entitled to equal pay” with workers who are employed directly.
Bosses use the loophole to rip off their workers to the tune of £173m a year, analysis by the Resolution Foundation shows.
In response to Peacock’s question, junior business minister Kelly Tolhurst confirmed that the closure of the loophole is being deferred until the 2020-21 tax year.
Peacock said, “The Prime Minister keeps asking us to trust her but once again she has shown exactly why we can’t.
“We simply can’t take their word for anything, let alone on an issue as important as our fundamental rights at work.”
Last year it was revealed that BT was using the loophole to underpay thousands of call centre workers – resulting in them being paid around £500 a month less than their colleagues on full time contracts.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, “The burning injustices the government promises to extinguish will continue burning brighter for longer for agency workers, thanks to ministers over promising and under delivering.”