Equal Treatment for Agency Workers – BERR publishes research findings on agency working in the UKMonday, November 17th, 2008
In preparation for consultation on the implementation of a new European Directive on temporary agency work, the Department for Business Regulation and Regulatory Reform (BERR) published on 30 October the findings of a survey on agency working conducted by Employment Market Analysis and Research, part of BERR’s Employment Relations Directorate.
The main findings of the survey are:
- The best estimate for the number of agency workers, from external business surveys of the agency sector, show there are between 1.1 and 1.5 million agency workers, although the high turnover, seasonality and flexibility of agency work make it difficult to come to a definitive figure.
- There are an estimated 16,000 recruitment sites (branches and offices), including a number of large well-known agency businesses. However, nearly 60% of agencies are single-site businesses with between one and five employees.
- Compared with all employees, agency workers are more likely to work in the manufacturing, transport, and financial services sectors and less likely to work in distribution, hotels, restaurants and the public sector.
- Agency working is concentrated in larger organisations of 50+ employees.
- The duration of assignments is estimated to be less than three months for around 55% of agency workers surveyed who knew the length of time they had been on their current assignment.
- Using permanent employees within their first two year of employment as comparators, agency workers had median hourly wages of £7.00, 94% of the £7.48 received by employees. (Figures in fourth quarter of 2007)
- Agency workers are more likely to be younger, from an ethnic minority group but with broadly similar qualifications compared with all employees.
- The more frequently listed occupations for agency workers are professional, administrative, secretarial, personal services (e.g. social carers, class room assistants and workers in hospitality) and process/plant/machine operations.
- The survey found mixed evidence on satisfaction and well-being of agency workers, suggesting a fairly complex picture with agency workers having both positive and negative experiences.
Agency working in the UK: a review of the evidence
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