Coalition battle looms over European work rights


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New European Union employment laws could become a new flashpoint for the Coalition Government.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats are at odds over an EU directive that gives agency workers the same rights as full-time staff. It is due to be implemented next month by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, whose party has a history of pressing for improved employment rights.

But Conservative ministers fear the legislation will cost businesses nearly £2bn a year and hamper their efforts to grow.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that David Cameron's office secretly commissioned independent legal advice on whether the Agency Workers' Directive could be diluted. Downing Street was reportedly advised that elements of the legislation could be disregarded – a move that would antagonise Mr Cable. Mr Cameron now faces a dilemma whether to implement it intact or win plaudits from the Tory grassroots by scrapping parts of it.