Retailers accused of using agency contracts to undercut wages

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agency workers

Retail agency workers are being kept on temporary contracts for extended periods of time as the TUC accuses employers of using agency contracts to deliberately pay less.

According to a new study from workers union TUC, three in five agency workers remain in the same role for over a year, while one in six temporary workers have been at the same role for more than five years.

Forty per cent of agency staff who have been in the same role for over a year were under 35, and younger workers have been earmarked as being particularly at risk of being trapped by temporary contracts.

The retail sector employs one of the largest numbers of agency workers, which reportedly earn an average of £1.50 per hour less than their colleagues on a permanent contract.

This can rise to £7 per hour for anti-social shifts.

“Employers are keeping people on agency contracts to drive down wages,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“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.”

In response to the accusations, a business department spokesperson said: “The government recently set out plans to ensure millions of workers, including agency workers, will benefit from enhanced rights and protections.

“Under the package of proposals, all 1.2 million agency workers will be able to request a more stable contract and receive a clear breakdown of their pay.

“We are also considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates.”

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