HC Deb 18 June 1998 vol 314 cc499-500
9. Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)

If she will make a statement on the implementation of the part-time workers directive. [45060]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Ian McCartney)

The directive was extended to the United Kingdom on 7 April. We now have two years to implement it. During that period, we shall consider the options for how best to do so and, in particular, to ensure that both employers and employees enjoy the benefits of the directive and that the status of part-time jobs is improved. We intend to consult extensively on the best way of achieving that.

Mr. Brady

Is it the Minister's view that the terms of the directive should apply equally to casual workers as to other part-time workers, and, if so, has he made any assessment of the likely cost in casual jobs?

Mr. McCartney

The hon. Gentleman raised the same point in the Education and Employment Sub-Committee, on 1 June, when I made it clear that the directive has the potential to cover forms of casual work. The most important point about the directive is that 90 per cent. of employers have already expressed support for the principle of ensuring flexibility in business through part-time working. In addition, part-time work gives flexibility to many workers, including those who have child responsibilities, and gives them the opportunity to continue to make a contribution to an enterprise. The directive will assist competitiveness and provide good employment rights and standards in the workplace.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Is not the Government's implementation of the directive a clear message that the Labour Government believe that the growing number of part-time workers are entitled to fair conditions, while the Conservatives could not care less about their conditions?

Mr. McCartney

When we got rid of the previous Government, second-class citizenship for part-time workers went with them. Every worker in Britain will now have the same rights. There will be no more second-class citizens. We want people to make a contribution to the United Kingdom economy, and we shall ensure that they do.

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