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Employer demand for agency workers is growing, despite AWR, says REC

Demand for temporary staff over the past month has remained stable and is up on the same time last year, despite new regulations on agency work coming into force in October, according to data published yesterday by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

REC's JobsOutlook survey shows 81% of employers are planning to either grow or keep their agency workforces at existing levels. Within this, a significant proportion of employers – 31% – are planning to actually increase their temporary staff. This compares to 22% at the same time last year.

In the longer term, a total of 83% of employers are looking to grow or keep their temporary staff levels the same in the next 12 months.

The latest JobsOutlook shows 52% of employers made changes – including staff training – ahead of the Agency Workers Regulations coming into force on 1 October.

Another 39% said they did not make any changes, while 9% said they were not sure. The number of employers planning to make less use of temporary staff due to the AWR was 7% down on the previous month, perhaps reflecting increasing recognition that in most sectors the impact of the regulations on clients will be minimal.

Commenting on the latest figures, REC chief executive Kevin Green said: "The ongoing economic uncertainty has clearly influenced hiring patterns. Using temporary and contract staff is an attractive option and provides a means of bringing in the right skills at very short notice."

"There is no doubt that the AWR has created significant cost and bureaucracy for agencies. At the same time, the need for agency staff has so far remained constant. The main impact to date has been the development of new supply models rather than any sort of collapse in demand for temp and contract labour. These are trends that we will continue to track as we approach the first 12 week milestone since the regulations come into force."

JobsOutlook is based on a monthly survey of employers, with results based on a sample of 600 on a three-month rolling basis.