Agency workers projected to reach £1million by 2020

06 December 2016

The number of agency workers is set to reach one million by 2020 on current trends, according to Resolution Foundation research.

In a BBC news report the think tank, Resolution Foundation, (analysis and action on living standards) describes agency workers as "the forgotten face" in the debate around insecure work. They estimate a full-time agency worker gets £430 less than an employee in the same role. The organisation also says the workers are disadvantaged not only by lower pay, but also because they are not entitled to sick or parental leave pay and are more easily dismissed.

According to the research, the current number of 865,000 has grown by 30% since 2011 and women accounted for 85% of the growth in temporary agency workers. It did not explain why that was, but it will form part of an 18-month investigation into the subject.

The government recently announced that there would be a review on modern work practices which will consider the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities, as well as on employer freedoms and obligations.

Other findings from the research include:

  • Agency workers are most likely to be in the health and social work sectors, followed by manufacturing and business activities (e.g. conference organisers, consultancy services, literary agents)
  • Ethnic minorities are three times more likely to be agency workers than white workers
  • Nearly one in five (18%) are in London
  • Six in 10 are UK nationals (compared with more than eight in 10 of the overall workforce).