United Kingdom – Agency work on the rise, according to REC

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November 20, 2019

Almost two in five UK employees (39%) have been agency workers, contractors or self-employed at some point in their careers, up from 36% in 2014, according to a new study by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC ).

“Recruitment agencies play an important role,” REC said. “Every day, they put over a million people on temporary assignment. The majority of employees (62%) were satisfied with the service received while 17% were neutral.

REC data also found that 28% of agency workers, contractors and freelancers choose this way of working because they want flexible hours while 36% want to move up the professional ladder quickly.

Two-thirds, or 68%, of people who worked as flexible workers are now in permanent positions, up 12% from 2014. Research also found that flexible working is part of people’s lives. in all parts of society.

Citing data from the Office of National Statistics, the REC found that since 2016, the number of people choosing flexible work because they did not want a permanent job had increased. Meanwhile, the proportion opting for flexible work because they could not find a permanent position fell from one in three (32%) to one in four (25%).

Meanwhile, the gender balance among people who did agency work was 52% women compared to 48% men. However, there is a larger difference between entrepreneurs and freelancers where men are the majority (63%).

Women are more likely to choose flexible work to care for children (13% of women vs. just 4% of men) and to work more flexible hours (33% of women vs. 24% of men).

Neil Carberry, Confederation Director General for Recruitment and Employment, said: “People make a positive choice to do flexible work because they want more from their job. We need to celebrate the different forms of work that are essential to meet the needs of workers at critical stages in the lives of many people.

“In uncertain times, businesses need flexibility to meet the demand for skills and people are looking for opportunities to work flexibly or to balance work with care needs,” Carberry said.


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