Agency working in Britain: character, consequences and regulation
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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