The number of agency workers has risen by 30% in the last five years and could reach one million by 2020, a think-tank has claimed.
A new report from the Resolution Foundation suggests there are now 865,000 agency workers in the UK – up by 200,000 since 2011.
Although the organisation acknowledged there are advantages to using agency workers, it has described the agency workforce as the ‘forgotten face’ in the recent debate around insecure work.
The Resolution Foundation estimates that a full-time agency worker receives £430 less a year when compared to a permanent employee in the same role.
It also points out that while action has been taken to address the issue of zero-hours contracts, agency workers remain vulnerable to exploitation because they are not entitled to employment rights such as sick pay or parental leave pay, and have no notice period.
‘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,’ commented Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst.
‘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.
Although agency work is usually viewed as short-term, the report suggests that this is not always the case, with half of agency workers saying they work on a permanent basis and three-quarters claiming to work full-time.
The think-tank is now carrying out an 18-month investigation into the issue and is calling on the government to review the situation.