Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Temporary agency worker numbers hit a year high in August

Businesses turn to temporary agency workers amid fears of double dip recession

New data from de Poel, the number one procurer of temporary agency labour, shows the use of temporary agency workers in the UK hit a year high in August.

Figures show that the number of hours worked by temporary agency workers increased by 27% compared to July and 19% compared to the same period last year.

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The data confirms that temporary agency labour is an ever more valuable asset to UK businesses, as they face uncertain times and the fear of a double dip recession.

The Government, therefore, needs to be cautious when reviewing proposed employment legislation that could impact on the supply of temporary agency workers such as the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).

The findings compliment The Office of National Statistics (ONS) employment figures released in August which showed a decline in the employment rate in the UK. This trend is set to continue when updated ONS statistics are released on Wednesday 15th September, which are expected to show employment rates are still unsteady in the UK.

Matthew Sanders, CEO of de Poel commented “As business confidence declines, temporary agency workers are being relied upon more heavily to fill skills gaps in the workforce. Therefore it is imperative that the Government considers the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) carefully when reviewing it next month before it is due to come into force next year.”

The AWR is one of the most contested pieces of employment legislation to date and will see temporary workers gain the same rights as permanent staff after 12 weeks in a position.

Matthew continues “Temporary agency workers are the backbone of UK Plc offering a rapid solution to market fluctuations, often filling skills gaps at short notice, especially during times of economic unrest. Although the AWR legislation does not come into force until October 2011, the Government needs to make a decision about the introduction of the regulations sooner, rather than later, so that organisations can begin to prepare for the changes now. Consideration from businesses also needs to be given as to how they are going to place temporary agency workers within their organisation in the future to ensure they can still maintain an efficient, cost effective, flexible workforce, without breaking the rules.”

The statistics show a consistent increase in the use of temporary agency labour across all industry sectors with the care sector showing the biggest increase of 32%, compared with July.

Meanwhile the retail sector also saw an increase in the use of temporary agency labour in August, complementing the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium showing a rise in retail sales over the summer period.

Matthew concluded “There are a number of changes to legislation coming through in the next few months that will seriously impact the temporary agency market including the cap on migrants and the AWR. We hope that the Government will look to support temporary agency workers throughout the next 12 months so that businesses will continue to use this valuable asset.”

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