Trend for seasonal workers declines

Fewer
companies are using seasonal workers, as the nature of employment changes.

Research
shows that while nearly all companies in the UK (95 per cent) use some form of
temporary, casual or agency employee, the role of seasonal workers is in
decline, with only 41 per cent of organisations using them.

The
main reason for using temporary staff is now strategic – providing flexibility
– and these workers enjoy increasingly fair treatment, according to The Work
Foundation’s new Managing Best Practice guide, Managing contract and
temporary workers
.

The
Work Foundation asked UK organisations about the way they employ agency,
seasonal/casual and contract workers and found major changes in patterns of
use. Agency workers are now the most popular (85 per cent), followed by fixed
term contractors (73 per cent) and seasonal/casual staff (41 per cent).

Just
as dramatic is the changing rationale for their use. The top two reasons for
using non-permanent staff were to provide flexibility, either for business
cycles (71 per cent) or short-term staffing shortfalls (62 per cent).

Organisations
are clearly keen to control fixed costs and are much more adept at managing
fluctuations through the use of temporary cover. More than 80 per cent of
service sector organisations in the survey used temporary employees to match
demand and supply fluctuations.

For
those people in temporary positions, the situation is increasingly good. Nearly
7 in 10 companies (68 per cent) report that they make some temporary staff
permanent and that they give increasing parity with permanent employees.

Nick
Isles, deputy director of advocacy at The Work Foundation, said: "We have
witnessed irreversible changes in work. Flexibility is a real area of business
necessity and organisations are using temporary working to deliver that last
vital few per cent of advantage.

"Flexible
working, such as annualised hours, is dramatically changing the need for
temporary workers, as are other developments such as the use of older staff to
inject knowledge into a business. To quite some degree, this explains why there
seem to be fewer and fewer summer jobs.

"One
excellent trend is the greater parity being given to temporary staff. Managers
understand the need to engage all their people and that they can expect a
better job if they treat staff fairly. The other main ingredients for best
practice in this area are taking care with recruitment, taking care with
contracts and forming good relationships with proven recruiters and agencies."

By Quentin Reade

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