Secret Agents: agency workers in the new world of work

Secret Agents: agency workers in the new world of work

In December 2016, the Resolution Foundation, a grant-holder of Unbound Philanthropy, published a report titled, "Secret Agents: agency workers in the new world of work." The Resolution Foundation is a non-partisan and award-winning think-tank that works to improve the living standards of those in Britain on low to middle incomes.

According to the Labour Force Survey, there are an estimated 865,000 agency workers in the UK. Agency workers are characterised by a triangular working relationship where the worker provides services in a workplace but has no employment relationship with the workplace firm; instead, the worker is contracted by an agency which in turns contracts with the workplace firm to provide the required staff. 

The report aims to shed new light on agency workers -- the permanent and the self-employed -- by mapping out the scale and nature of agency work in the UK today. The report identifies what agency workers do, where they are employed, and the demographics of these workers. Further, the report finds that there is a significant pay penalty attached to being an agency worker, with only little evidence to suggest that other features of this way of working compensate for this loss.

Download the full report Secret Agents.pdf