Last reviewed 27 August 2020

According to the latest survey by the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), temporary staff are certainly becoming more important to businesses as they try to recover from the effects of Covid-19.

Employers’ intentions to hire temporary agency workers have increased over the past few months, according to the REC’s latest JobsOutlook report.

In the period May to July, their hiring intentions for agency workers in the short term (the next three months) reached net: +6, the highest level since October–December 2019.

In another sign of confidence returning, employers’ intentions to hire permanent staff also recovered to net: +5.

REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said: “Today’s data shows that as lockdown eases and the economy recovers, businesses will use temporary work to start to build back. That makes sense and matches the pattern of previous recoveries.”

When asked why temporary agency workers are important for their organisation, more employers say that agency workers are important for short-term access to key skills.

The proportion highlighting this factor rose from 53% in January–March, before lockdown measures were introduced, to 67% in May–July.

Available at, REC research shows that temporary work is not only important for employers, but for workers as well.

Two in five (39%) people in Britain have done temporary, contract or freelance work during their lives, and the majority do this by choice. A third (36%) chose to do this to find work more speedily, while 28% used temporary work to earn money quickly.

Many also use temporary work as a stepping stone and progress into permanent positions — 68% of those who have done temporary work in the past are now in a permanent role, REC highlights.

Comment by Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at Croner

Employers all over the country have needed to find a balance between the redundancy spike in one half of their business and some short-term recruitment demands in other parts of the business.

Employers who find themselves in this unlikely predicament have probably tried to explore the different ways of resolving it, including through the hiring of temporary workers who have a fixed date their employment will end.

This could be a popular option for employers, allowing them more control over staffing numbers should they experience business downturn.