New research released today suggests temporary work is set to surge as more than a quarter of firms (27 per cent) in the UK reconsider the role agency workers have in their business. At the moment, just one in six firms (15 per cent) rely on a flexible workforce according, with 1.5m temporary employees in the UK today.
The figures, released by digital staffing platform Coople also reveal that a fifth (20 per cent) of respondents said they plan to implement a headcount freeze over the next 12 months, while almost a fifth (19 per cent) said they plan to reduce hours.
The new reliance on agency workers is grounded in inability to effectively plan for the business long-term, due to constantly shifting market conditions as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. On average, half of respondents (50 per cent) state the situation has led to profits slightly or significantly declining. The number of respondents who do not utilise agency workers and reported losses was almost double that of the respondents who do hire them (63 per cent v 39 per cent), suggesting short term work can alleviate some financial pressures.
Despite recognition that companies will have to rely on agency workers in the coming months, almost half (50 per cent) of management heads and HR leaders who currently hire them do not understand the rights and benefits flexible workers are entitled to. This drops again to one in four (25 per cent) of management teams who have not hired agency workers yet.
The biggest gaps in knowledge were around pay and holiday with over a third (35 per cent) believing agency workers aren’t eligible for holiday pay and slightly fewer (30 per cent) believing casual workers aren’t eligible for the minimum wage.
Kit Glover, UK MD at Coople, the digital staffing platform, said: “With so many priorities competing for the attention of CEOs and HR teams at such a demanding time, it’s natural less is known of more irregular members of the workforce. With the surge in casual workers that’s expected; it is important firms recognise the value their flexible workforce brings in terms of added flexibility and financial results.
“Working with a specialist agency can help, as we take the legal responsibility for the workers. Employment by a staffing platform not only ensures that they receive minimum wage and are entitled to a number of employee benefits. It also means that they have access to a wide range of job opportunities. Business leaders can benefit from the flexibility and busines opportunity their flexible workers bring, while knowing that the solution is equally beneficial for the workers.”