IT directors and recruitment agencies are at loggerheads over plans to make it easier for employers to give permanent jobs to IT contractors.
Job agencies are mounting a last-minute drive to persuade the Government to water down the proposals contained in draft regulations due to be published in the next few days.
The draft regulations give firms the right to offer IT contractors permanent jobs four weeks after the contractors leave their agency.
Although the proposals have won favour with employers, recruitment agents claim the draft Employment Agencies Act Regulations will force them to charge firms heavy up-front fees for freelance IT staff.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation last week published the results of a Mori poll showing that 54% of businesses would unfairly use the new legislation to avoid paying agency fees.
But the claims were this week dismissed by employers' organisations, which accused the agencies of exaggerating the problem.
David Rippon, chairman of the Elite group, said, "It's a typical example of agencies crying wolf. Most people who work as contractors want to be contractors, not permanent staff."
David Roberts, executive director of the Technical Infrastructure Forum, said, "The idea that employers would deliberately convert contractors to employees to save a small amount of recruitment fees is an absolute red herring."