The number of agency workers in Britain is set to reach one million by 2020 if current growth trends continue, according to Resolution Foundation Research.
The report, describing agency staff as the ‘forgotten face’ in the debate around insecure work, shows that the number of agency workers has grown by 30% in the last 5 years – now standing at 865,000 agency workers across the UK.
In addition, the report claims that a full time agency worker earns £430 a year less than an identical employee in the same role.
Agency workers are classed as workers rather than employees, therefore they are not always entitled to sick pay or parental leave.
Lindsay Judge, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said “We need to do a better job of understanding who this group of soon-to-be a million agency workers is.
“This fast growing group is not just made up of young people looking for temporary employment as some have suggested, but instead includes many older full-time, permanent workers.”
Professor Ralph Darlington, of the University of Salford Business School, told Quays News “It is certainly true that the trend in such labour market practices threatens the security of secure, permanent employment but most reports wildly overstate the extent of such trends.
“The vast majority of people remain employed in ‘traditional’ employment and such precarious trends do not preclude the possibility of so-called ‘old-fashioned’ collective workers’ resistance.”
Earlier this year Sports Direct was ordered to pay £1 million in compensation to staff, including agency workers, who it was admitted had not received the statutory minimum wage.
Independent bike couriers at Deliveroo also held a series of strikes that forced the company to withdraw a new contract that threated to slash hourly pay rates.
Matt, 22, a Deliveroo employee, said “I wouldn’t want to do it for the rest of my life but for a person of my age it’s really good.
“The harder you work the more you get paid, it depends on the kind of person you are. I get paid £9 an hour and I couldn’t get that anywhere else. If anything they want me to do more shifts so it feels like quite a secure job.”