31 MEPs voted in favour, three abstained and only one voted against the text, which had been blocked since 2002, mainly due to reservations from the UK government over granting full equal rights to temporary employees before they have been in the job for 12 weeks.
Under the agreed text, which is a compromise between Parliament and national governments, derogations from the equal treatment obligation would still be possible provided that there is agreement between social partners. But the amended directive makes clear that this should remain the exception.
MEPs also managed to successfully insert guarantees on equal access to employment and vocational training in the text, but failed to retain provisions guaranteeing equal treatment as regards health, saftey and hygiene at work.
Nevertheless, this was a compromise that parliamentarians said they were willing to accept in exchange for breaking the deadlock on the directive, which they had rejected in first reading in November 2002.
If approved in plenary later this month, the directive will harmonise EU-wide legislation on temporary workers, which varies considerably between member states. In Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, the temporary work sector is essentially covered by general legislation, while in Ireland and the UK the protection in place rave only very flexible .