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Bosses Undercutting Wages By Keeping People On Agency Contracts For Years, Warns TUC
6 in 10 agency workers are employed for more than a year
Agency worker loophole allows bosses to drive down pay, say unions

The TUC has today (Monday) warned that bosses are undercutting wages by keeping people on agency contracts for years.

A new TUC report shows that 6 in 10 (422,000) agency workers are being employed in the same role at the same workplace for more than a year. And that 1 in 3 (300,000) have been in the same role for over two years. 1 in 6 (122,000) have been in the same role for more than five years,

The TUC says that many of these workers’ employers are deliberately paying them less than their permanent colleagues.

A loophole – which the TUC has dubbed “the Undercutters’ Charter” – allows bosses to pay agency staff less, even when they do identical roles to permanent colleagues.

As a result agency workers are paid £1.50 less an hour, on average, than permanent staff. However, at some workplaces this pay penalty can be as high as £4 an hour or £7 for those working anti-social shifts.

The industries with the highest numbers of ‘long-term’ agency workers are:

Banking and finance – over 80,000 agency workers who have been in the same role for over a year.
Distribution, hotels and retail –over 70,000 agency workers who have been in the same role for more than a year.
Manufacturing – over 65,000 agency workers who have been in the same role for a year or more.

The report shows that young workers are particularly risk of being trapped in insecure agency work. Two-fifths of agency staff employed for more than a year are aged 16-35.

The government announced last month, as part of its response to the Taylor Review, that it will launch a consultation on whether to get rid of this agency worker loophole. But the TUC says ministers should scrap the loophole now.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Employers are keeping people on agency contracts to drive down wages.

“Two people working next to each other, doing the same job, should get the same wage. But bosses are exploiting a loophole in the law that allows them to pay agency workers less.

“The government must scrap this loophole now – it’s an Undercutters’ Charter.

“The Taylor Review called for agency workers to stop being treated like second-class citizens. Ministers must get on with ending the Undercutters’ Charter.”

Bosses Undercutting Wages By Keeping People On Agency Contracts For Years, Warns TUC, 5th March 2018, 20:07 PM