The UK government today brokered a deal on agency workers’ rights that could pave the way to an agreement on deadlocked EU legislation. The deal, which covers general pay and conditions, gives agency workers equal treatment to employees on conventional contracts after 12 weeks of employment.It is expected to lead to progress on the stalled EU temporary-agency workers directive. The UK had previously blocked the directive on the grounds that equal treatment should only kick in after six months of employment. The Slovenian presidency hopes that the climb-down will soften French, Italian and Spanish resistance to the UK’s opt-out from the EU directive on working time. A Slovenian diplomat said the presidency is currently preparing compromise proposals bundling both laws together as one package in preparation for a meeting of employment ministers on 9 June.The UK was keen to stress that today’s deal would not harm the UK’s flexible labour market. “[The] agreement achieves our twin objectives of flexibility for British employers and fairness for workers,” said John Hutton, the secretary of state for business.“It will give people a fair deal at work without putting their jobs at risk or cutting off a valuable route into employment,” he said.While today’s deal covers general pay and conditions, it would not give temporary workers access to sick pay and pensions.