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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

Why are employers turning to temporary staff?

Updated: May 25, 2023

With the current economic uncertainty and the rise in cost of living, many employers are turning to temporary staff.

Recruiting Temporary Staff

The recent UK Report on Jobs survey of approximately 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies published by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), found that although permanent recruitment in the UK has been falling, the recruitment of temporary workers continues to grow.

Benefits of hiring temporary / agency workers

Many organisations have been forced to reduce headcount recently with the rise in cost of living and economic uncertainty. In addition to this, some organisations are struggling to recruit people with the right skills and experience and according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) there were over one million vacancies in the UK between October to December 2022. This leaves many employers short of staff and unable to cope with workload.

Hiring a temporary worker through a recruitment agency is usually quick and easy. Agencies often have a bank of workers who they have already interviewed and carried out background check on. Workers have often been placed previously in numerous assignments through the agency and the agency would usually have feedback on their performance from their clients.

There are many benefits of recruiting agency workers, including:

  • It is cost effective to recruit highly qualified and experienced workers with the right skills and specialisms temporarily for specific short-term projects.

  • Agency workers can be hired flexibly for ad-hoc days and periods to replace unexpected absences, additional workload or other demands.

  • Agency workers can support employers where they are struggling to recruit permanent staff.

  • Agency workers are more flexible and short-term budgets can be managed more effectively.

Types of temporary employees / workers

There are different routes to hiring temporary staff, and these are split between those that are considered employees and those that are not employees.

Agency workers are generally not considered employees of the hiring business, and the agency will invoice the hiring business for the hours worked. Agency workers are often used for last minute needs, such as absences. It is, however, important to note that the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 protects agency workers and gives them the right to equal treatment in relation to collective facilities and amenities and the right to be given the same information about relevant vacancies as comparable workers. In addition to this, after a twelve-week qualifying period, they are entitled to equal treatment in relation to basic working and employment conditions, such as pay, working time and holiday.

Freelancers, consultants and contractors are generally self-employed or work on behalf of an outsource Company. They would invoice for the time they work and be responsible for their own tax and NI contributions. However, where they are a Limited Company, the IR35 rules will apply and they could be regarded as an employee for tax purposes and, if so, should be paid through PAYE.

Temporary employees are usually either on a fixed-term contracts or their employment will terminate at the end of a given project or specific event. Temporary employees have employment rights and build up their rights similarly to that of permanent employees by their length of service, even if they have short breaks between contracts. In addition to this, the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 ensures that they are treated equally to the hiring Companies permanent employees.

Casual workers are usually not considered employees and there is generally no obligation on the employer to offer work or on the individual worker to accept work. Casual workers are paid through PAYE and are entitled to statutory benefits. For a contract to be truly casual, however, the worker shouldn't be working regular shift patterns but only as and when required to fill in gaps.

Those on zero-hour contracts are generally employees who have no or very few guaranteed hours, but are expected to be available to work the hours offered and are employed on similar terms and conditions of employment as other members of staff.

When it comes to different contracts and terms and conditions of employment, it is so important that the relationship, in practice, between the employer and worker reflects the type of contract in place. Should this not be the case, there may be a risk of the worker making a tribunal claim and the tribunal deciding that the individual is entitled to greater rights, terms and benefits than those they have been provided contractually.

SWan HR Consultancy (London and Kent)

SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.

SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.

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