A study by Resolution Foundation has found that agency workers in the UK are being paid an estimated £400 million less than permanent staff for the same work. This would leave the average worker almost £1000 worse off every year. This is despite laws that give agency workers equal rights to pay as employees once they’ve been in the position for three months, which accounts for 85% of agency staff.
The study found that the average agency worker was paid 23p per hour less than their permanent colleagues for the same job between 2011 and 2017. This means that the average administration worker lost a total of £990 every year, and those in customer service jobs were paid £803 less than permanent employees.
According to Agency Worker Regulations, all agency workers are entitled to the same basic employment conditions after the first twelve weeks. This includes pay, working time rights, bonuses, commission and holiday pay. The charity has argued that agency workers are entitled to these rights, and employers are abusing their contracts by paying them less.
Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation commented that the government needs to do more to enforce the equal pay rights these workers are entitled to. She said “Agency workers deserve to be paid the same as employees if they’re doing the same job, so the Government should look to close the loophole that allows agency workers to sign away their right to equal pay.”
“With the government-commissioned Taylor Review noting this abuse, we’re hopeful that 2018 will be the year of action on fair pay for agency workers. Many workers prefer the flexibility that agency work can sometimes offer, and are willing to be paid less as a result, but those doing the same job on the same terms as employee colleagues deserve to take home the same day’s pay”
The study also found that the level of pay received by agency workers varied substantially between different occupations and industries. For example, agency employed managers were usually paid bonuses, which made up for the differences in basic rates. Premiums were also paid in sectors like social care, which tend to have more unsociable working hours and more flexible contracts.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Two people working next to each other, doing the same job, should get the same pay rates. But too often agency workers are treated like second-class citizens. That’s because there’s a loophole in the law that allows bad bosses to deny agency workers equal pay. It’s time to end this under cutters’ charter and for the Government to scrap this loophole. Its recent review into modern employment practices called for precisely that.”