HR · 6 December 2016

Agency workers earn less for the same role than permanent employees

Agency workers
The Resolution Foundation predicts that there will be over a million agency workers in Britain by the end of the decade
Workers employed through a third-party agency earn 430 less in a year than fully contracted counterparts performing an identical role, according to a new study.

The ‘secret Agents? report, published by the Resolution Foundation think tank, shone a light on the world of agency work in Britain and the conditions of such workers.

The report also predicted that there will be over a million agency workers in the UK by 2020, growing from the 865, 000 currently active.

The industry most heavily reliant on agency workers was found to be the manufacturing sector, with 4.1 per cent of the entire workforce contracted from outside the company that they worked for.

In a statement, Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, confirmed that people valued the flexibility, variety and absence of bureaucracy? that contracted work offered.

but when agency work has an average pay penalty of 430 a year, many are likely to be working in this way out of necessity rather than choice, she added, citing the need for government to conduct a ‘serious examination? of agency workers.

Aside from lower pay, the report highlighted other disadvantages, particularly the lack of workplace benefits such as sick pay or dismissal rights.

It also appeared to debunk the stereotype of agency work filling temporary roles, finding that half of all contracted workers considered themselves permanent employees.

The case of zero-hour? contracts employees brought into a workplace without specified hours has been the most high-profile debate surrounding casual employment, after instances where workers were seen to be exploited.

In 2015 retail giant Sports Direct was found to be employing workers without contracted hours and on hourly rates of 6.50 below the legal National Minimum Wage (NMW).

Sports Direct has since pledged to guarantee all casual staff specified hours, but the Resolution Foundation claims that zero-hour contracts remain a growing trend. It suggested that one in seven agency workers were employed on such terms over the last 18 months.


 
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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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