Agency workers are to receive the same rights as permanent workers, the government has said.

Under plans laid down by the government, unions and the Confederation of British Industry, temporary workers will be entitled to equal rights and pay after 12 weeks in a role.

However, the British Retail Consortium warned businesses would stop offering agency roles because of the changes.

“The unions are wrong to regard this as a victory for workers,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC. “They will see flexible working opportunities disappear yet not be replaced by permanent jobs, while businesses will struggle to respond to peaks and troughs in demand and to cover for absent permanent staff.”