Why the temp is in huge demand

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The Independent Online

The demand for temporary staff has reached its highest level since records began and looks set to continue rising, according to Britain's biggest employment agency.

Reed Personnel Services announced yesterday that employers are relying more heavily than ever on temporary rather than permanent staff. Figures for the last three months of 1995 reveal that the demand is 22per cent higher than in the 1989 boom time peak and double that of the first quarter of 1992.

"There is a danger that we will get another gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" based not on money but on whether or not you have a permanent job," said Alec Reed, founder and executive chairman of Reed Personnel Services, which has 200 branches in the UK.

Mr Reed fears that the growing number of one-stop workers - whose spells of work tend to be "a year here and a year there, rather than a week here and a week there as in the past" - are being short-changed. He is calling for provisions to be made to ensure that they receive benefits and support similar to those automatically provided to permanent staff.

"Training, sick pay, holiday pay and access to credit (such as mortgages and credit cards), all need to be available," he said. "Only in this way can the effectiveness and the high quality of the flexible workforce, which is so important to the success of the UK economy, be maintained. If we don't treat temps with respect it could blow up in our faces."

He predicted that the temp's status would soon improve. "I think they will become far more respected over the next 12 months. Temporary work was a new, brash market which companies rushed into in times of recession. Now companies are realising that temps are a valuable tool in running a business."

Demand for temporary staff has risen 25 per cent year-on-year, a 1 per cent increase on the previous quarter's year-on-year percentage increase, according to the the Reed Temporary Index.