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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 (LFS), 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. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Forde & Gary Slater, 2005. "Agency Working in Britain: Character, Consequences and Regulation," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(2), pages 249-271, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:43:y:2005:i:2:p:249-271
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:lan:wpaper:2922 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:lan:wpaper:3016 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. 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).
    5. 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.
    6. Alex Bryson, 2013. "Do temporary agency workers affect workplace performance?," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 131-138, April.
    7. Schiersch, Alexander, 2016. "Considering the (Un)observed: temporary agency work in productivity estimations," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145749, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Rahul Suresh Sapkal, 2016. "Labour law, enforcement and the rise of temporary contract workers: empirical evidence from India’s organised manufacturing sector," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 157-182, August.
    9. René Böheim & Ana Rute Cardoso, 2009. "Temporary Help Services Employment in Portugal, 1995-2000," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 309-334 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. 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.
    11. Sarah Hamersma & Carolyn Heinrich & Peter Mueser, 2014. "Temporary Help Work: Earnings, Wages, and Multiple Job Holding," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 72-100, January.
    12. Böheim, René & Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2007. "Temporary Agency Work in Portugal, 1995–2000," IZA Discussion Papers 3144, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Alexander Schiersch, 2015. "TFP, Labor Productivity and the (Un)observed Labor Input: Temporary Agency Work," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1532, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    14. 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).
    15. John T. Addison & Christopher J. Surfield, 2005. "‘Atypical Work’ and Compensation," GEMF Working Papers 2005-14, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    16. Surhan Cam, 2014. "The Underemployed: Evidence From the UK Labour Force Survey for a Conditionally Gendered Top-down Model," Journal of Social Science Studies, Macrothink Institute, vol. 1(2), pages 47-65, July.
    17. J. Shackleton, 2007. "Britain’s Labor Market Under the Blair Governments," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 454-476, July.
    18. 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).
    19. 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.
    20. Francis Green, 2008. "Temporary Work and Insecurity in Britain: A Problem Solved?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 88(1), pages 147-160, August.
    21. Linda Mcdowell & Adina Batnitzky & Sarah Dyer, 2009. "Precarious Work and Economic Migration: Emerging Immigrant Divisions of Labour in Greater London's Service Sector," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(1), pages 3-25, March.
    22. repec:lan:wpaper:3171 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. 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.
    24. Vanselow, Achim & Weinkopf, Claudia, 2009. "Zeitarbeit in europäischen Ländern: Lehren für Deutschland?," Arbeitspapiere 182, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Düsseldorf.
    25. Jahn, Elke J., 2008. "Reassessing the Wage Penalty for Temps in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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