A generation ago, temporary work was practically outlawed. During the 1950s, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) clearly stated (in request to a question from the Swedish government) that temporary agency work was prohibited by ILO Convention 96 regarding fee-charging placement. Trade unions, of course, were in complete agreement, both because temporary work arrangements undermined the situation of permanent workers and deprived the temporary workers themselves of equal treatment guarantees. Yet persistent employers, always ready to find ways around this prohibition, have gone from strength to strength until today the role of private employment services is offered up to the public as that of an active link between employer and employee and an equal benefit to both. It is even defended as a force that effects the social integration of long-term unemployed, even of non-qualified or less-qualified workers. It is indeed along these lines that the proposed European directive on the working conditions of temporary workers justifies its requirement of Member States to discontinue any restrictions or prohibitions on temporary work for certain groups of workers, sectors or areas of economic activity. But how justifiable is this idea of the generalized leasing of employees? How acceptable is it under both labour law and social justice considerations? Although these important questions have been asked repeatedly for many years, no answers acceptable to all parties have yet been found. Accordingly, in April 2003 a group of outstanding authorities- practitioners, ILO officials, academics, policymakers, jurists, and labour experts-met in Brussels to reconsider these issues in light of the ongoing discussion on the proposed directive and the major labour market developments which have taken place in many countries over the last few years. Among the considerations raised there (and recorded in this book) are the following: the potential role of private employment agencies as fully integrated manpower providers; the wages and working conditions of workers who are put at the disposal of users; guarantees of equal treatment and other social protection provisions for temporary workers; the possible development of a dual-employer scheme of agency and user; and, continuing work diversification and its acceptability to the various actors and interests involved. These papers, reports and panels merit great attention because the matters they discuss will determine the way our labour markets-at national, European and international level-will function for years to come. No practitioner, policymaker, or academic in the field of employment and labour relations can afford to ignore this very significant book. This volume contains reports given at the International Conference on Temporary Agency Work and the Information Society, held on 28-29 April 2003 at the Royal Flemish Academy, Brussels, and sponsored jointly by the Academy, the Euro-Japan Institute for Law and Business, and the Society for International and Social Cooperation.