TUC analysis of official statistics has shown that 81 per cent of temporary agency workers aged 20–24, and 64 per cent of those aged 25–29, say they are in temporary work because they cannot find a permanent job.
Underemployment for zero-hours contract (ZHCs) workers is also shockingly high, with 50 per cent of those aged 20–24 and 58 per cent of those aged 25–29 saying they are only doing temporary work because they cannot find a permanent job.
Agency work and ZHCs are defended by employers claiming that they give young workers valuable experience while allowing mutual flexibility. However, this analysis shows that in reality increasing numbers of young workers are trapped in insecure work with poor pay and benefits, when they would rather be working full time.
There has been a 36% increase in temporary agency workers since 2009, and a 20% increase on last year alone.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The UK’s young people are increasingly bearing the brunt of the wages crisis. Younger workers are being pushed into zero-hours and temporary jobs from which they have little hope of escaping. The government can no longer afford to ignore the plight of young people, who are struggling to cope with poverty pay, poor prospects and the increased cost of housing and food.”
The analysis comes on the heels of Ed Milliband’s pledge to crack down on rogue employment agencies and their exploitative working practices.
He said; “There has been a huge increase in temporary agency work in recent years. Many employment agencies play their part in supporting businesses, as well as workers, who want flexibility. But there is now overwhelming evidence that some are operating in the shadows of our economy and on the margins of law, damaging the basic fabric of British life that hard work should be properly paid.
“Even the industry itself is expressing concern that the number of rogue agencies have increased in recent years. They are breaking the law on the minimum wage, failing to pay their taxes, and exploiting workers to undercut the wages of permanent staff. These rogue agencies need to know their time is up and we will act.”
For more information on zero-hours contractsRe-regulating Zero Hours Contracts is available now.