Workers in the UK working via employment agencies are not getting a fair deal, says the Resolution Foundation. The problem is growing as the number of agency staff has increased rapidly in recent years.
The Think-Tank found that agency workers are disproportionately drawn from ethnic minorities and are concentrated in low-paid industries and lower-skilled jobs.
There are now 865,000 agency staff in the UK, which has risen 200,000 since 2011. Over the last 18 months, 14% of agency workers were also employed on zero-hours contracts, which have come under a lot of criticism especially from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Sports Direct finally ditched zero-hour contracts after huge amounts of public pressure and a series of scandals in the media. Agency workers lack basic employment rights and are not entitled to sick pay or parental leave pay. They have no notice period and few rights if they are dismissed.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady is very concerned about the increase in agency staff, she said: “Agency workers don’t deserve to be treated like second-class citizens. But they are often paid less than their permanent colleagues, even when they do exactly the same job.
“We need the government to toughen the law to create a level playing field for agency workers. Too many employers are getting away with treating them unfairly.”
Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “While zero-hours contracts are often in the news, agency workers are the ‘forgotten face’ of the modern workforce, despite being just as prevalent across the labour market.
“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.”