Morrisons has been criticised for using a loophole to avoid paying temp staff the same as full-time workers

Morrisons has been criticised for using a loophole to avoid paying temp staff the same as full-time workers

UK trade unions have criticised supermarket chain Morrisons for using a legal loophole to avoid paying temporary workers the same as full-time staff.

Under the newly-introduced Agency Workers Directive (AWD), agency workers will be eligible for the same wages and benefits as permanent staff after 12 weeks in a job.

But Morrisons, the UK's fourth-largest supermarket chain, is using the "Swedish derogation" model, where recruitment agencies employ the temps directly, so they are no longer classed as agency workers and become exempt from the legislation.

A report in the Daily Telegraph said UK food giant Premier Foods plc is also making use of the Swedish derogation model.

Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, said: "We are totally against it. The AWD was put into place to stop agency workers being exploited by unscrupulous employers."

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) added its voice to opposition to the loophole, calling on agencies to follow the "spirit of the regulations".

"The AWD unfortunately has a loophole which relates to agency workers becoming employees of the agency. As these workers are employees, not agency workers, they no longer qualify for the equal pay protection of the Agency Worker Regulations", a spokesperson said.

"Usdaw, along with other trade unions, have opposed this loophole and wants to see all agency workers get equal treatment."

Morrisons defended its actions, claiming it will create job stability for temps.

"The Swedish Derogation model has been recognised by the Government, British Retail Consortium and Confederation of British Industry as a legitimate option for temporary employees", a spokesperson said.

"It will offer [staff] flexibility in their work as well as the stability of ongoing employment."