Agency work is a quintessential employment choice for workers seeking flexibility and businesses adapting to rapid economic change. Wages are an integral part of this equation, especially in times of increasing living costs. Our research shows that agency work doesn’t only offer flexibility, but also wages that are significantly above minimum wage, and often even above average wages. This is a valuable insight in discussions around labour market flexibility. Policy makers should embrace regulatory frameworks that enable agency work.
The way forward
At Adecco, we are convinced that agency work is a valuable and much needed form of work for both, people and businesses. The data from this paper further underline this. One of the takeaways includes the importance of fair wages for workers: We believe that paying fair wages is one key element to being seen as a responsible employer.
This leads us to the following recommendations.
Equal pay regulation needs to be talked about. In political conversations where discussions about wages and agency work are addressed, the existence of equal pay should be a key consideration.
Agency work is a flexible and formalised form of work. In situations where labour flexibility includes questionable independent contracts, agency work should be promoted as a well-regulated, well-established form of flexibility. This framework provides workers with rights and income.
Focus on skills to drive sustainable employment policies need to promote and support re- and upskilling. Skilling’s an integral part of policy responses to costs of living increases.
Lower labour cost by decreasing the tax wedge. This way, labour cost can remain stable (or even decrease) while allowing for higher take-home pay.
Increase collaboration between public and private employment services to mitigate potentially layoffs. This can be done by sharing labour market knowledge, expertise and networks or through outsourcing labour market policies to private experts. In turn, this qualified private party can provide meaningful career guidance, training and labour market support.