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Agency working in Britain: character, consequences and regulation

  • Chris Forde
  • Gary Slater

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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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
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Handle: RePEc:nbs:wpaper:2004/4
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.ntu.ac.uk/nbs

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  1. Neumark, David & Reed, Deborah, 2004. "Employment relationships in the new economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, February.
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  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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