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Agency working in Britain: character, consequences and regulation

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  • Chris Forde
  • Gary Slater

Abstract

Debate over the nature of temporary agency work has intensified in recent times, spurred on by a proposed European directive and by speculation about links with the much heralded ‘knowledge’ economy. This paper examines the debate, focusing on the current character of agency work in Britain. Using data from the Labour Force Survey, we assess some of the claims commonly made about agency work, relating to the personal and employment characteristics of those engaged in such work, the motives of agency workers and the prospects for those who take up agency jobs. In considering the arguments surrounding regulatory change, we find there is a strong case for regulation, but that this rests on the continued disadvantage associated with agency work, with little evidence of an impact from the purported ‘knowledge’ economy.

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File URL: http://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/document_uploads/31289.pdf
File Function: First version, 2004
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School, Economics Division in its series Working Papers with number 2004/4.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbs:wpaper:2004/4

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Web page: http://www.ntu.ac.uk/nbs

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References

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  1. Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2003. "The role of temporary agency employment in tight labor markets," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 105-127, October.
  2. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Gregg, Paul & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2000. "Mind the Gap, Please: The Changing Nature of Entry Jobs in Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(268), pages 499-524, November.
  4. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448, November.
  5. Casey, Bernard, 1988. "The Extent and Nature of Temporary Employment in Britain," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 487-509, December.
  6. Arne L. Kalleberg, 2001. "Organizing Flexibility: The Flexible Firm in a New Century," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 479-504, December.
  7. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones or Dead Ends?," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 8, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
  8. Neumark, David & Reed, Deborah, 2004. "Employment relationships in the new economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, February.
  9. Michael D. S. Morris & Alexander Vekker, 2001. "An Alternative Look at Temporary Workers, Their Choices, and the Growth in Temporary Employment," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(2), pages 373-390, April.
  10. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, 2000. "Work transitions into and out of involuntary temporary employment in a segmented market: Evidence from Spain," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 309-325, January.
  11. Paul Smith & Gary Morton, 2001. "New Labour's Reform of Britain's Employment Law: The Devil is not only in the Detail but in the Values and Policy Too," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 39(1), pages 119-138, 03.
  12. Peter Nolan & Stephen Wood, 2003. "Mapping the Future of Work," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 165-174, 06.
  13. Irena Grugulis, 2003. "The Contribution of National Vocational Qualifications to the Growth of Skills in the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(3), pages 457-475, 09.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rene Boeheim & Ana Rute Cardoso, 2007. "Temporary Help Services Employment in Portugal, 1995-2000," NBER Working Papers 13582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dr Alex Bryson, 2012. "Do Temporary Agency Workers Affect Workplace Performance?," NIESR Discussion Papers 3237, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  3. Chris Forde & Robert MacKenzie, 2010. "The Ethical Agendas of Employment Agencies Towards Migrant Workers in the UK: Deciphering the Codes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 97(1), pages 31-41, December.
  4. J. Shackleton, 2007. "Britain’s Labor Market Under the Blair Governments," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 454-476, July.
  5. Chris Dawson & Michail Veliziotis, 2013. "Temporary employment, job satisfaction and subjective well-being," Working Papers 20131309, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  6. Francis Green, 2008. "Temporary Work and Insecurity in Britain: A Problem Solved?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 88(1), pages 147-160, August.
  7. Jahn, Elke J. & Pozzoli, Dario, 2013. "The pay gap of temporary agency workers — Does the temp sector experience pay off?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 48-57.
  8. Marc Doussard & Nik Theodore, 2006. "The Temporary Staffing Industry and Workforce Development: Assessing a System of Local Experiments," Local Economy, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 264-278, August.
  9. Andersson Joona, Pernilla & Wadensjö, Eskil, 2012. "A Price for Flexibility? The Temp Agency Wage Gap in Sweden 1998-2008," IZA Discussion Papers 6587, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. repec:lan:wpaper:3016 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Böheim, René & Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2007. "Temporary Agency Work in Portugal, 1995–2000," IZA Discussion Papers 3144, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. John T. Addison & Christopher J. Surfield, 2005. "‘Atypical Work’ and Compensation," GEMF Working Papers 2005-14, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra.
  13. Jahn, Elke J. & Pozzoli, Dario, 2011. "Does the Sector Experience Affect the Pay Gap for Temporary Agency Workers?," IZA Discussion Papers 5837, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. repec:lan:wpaper:3171 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Heywood, John S. & Siebert, W. Stanley & Wei, Xiangdong, 2006. "Examining the Determinants of Agency Work: Do Family Friendly Practices Play a Role?," IZA Discussion Papers 2413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Niebuhr, Annekatrin & Buch, Tanja, 2013. "Wage effects of labor market entry via temporary work agency employment - evidence for German apprenticeship graduates," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79818, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  17. Jahn, Elke J., 2008. "Reassessing the Wage Penalty for Temps in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. repec:lan:wpaper:2922 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. C Green & J S Heywood, 2007. "Are flexible contracts bad for workers? Evidence from job satisfaction data," Working Papers 590927, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

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