Flexible workers are positively opting to work as contractors, either through umbrella companies or their own limited companies, rather than being forced into temping by the economic downturn, a new survey by the recruitment company Randstad has revealed.

Over 3,000 firms and employees were polled and the results show that 63% of respondents deliberately opted for contracting or temping. Nearly half of the permanent staff polled said they were actively considering alternatives such as working through PAYE umbrella services or other forms of freelancing when they next changed roles.

Employers, too, expressed positive evaluations of contractors and temporary personnel, with 13% saying they enhanced productivity and 11% believing they help drive innovation.

The survey also tested the water vis-à-vis the AWR. The so-called ‘Day One’ rights of the regulations, which grants temporary workers access to company canteens, nurseries, parking etc, have had little effect, not least because over three quarters (78%) of the firms polled had already extended these rights to contractors and temps anyway. Half of respondents found the equal pay and conditions measures consequent to the twelve-week rule advantageous, although it remains too early to gauge the long-term impact of this provision.

Randstad’s CEO, Mark Bull, said: “[T]he lack of job security during this slow recovery is also encouraging people to think seriously about temping or contracting for the first time.”

“The UK already has the greatest penetration of temporary and contract workers in the EU, at about 4% of the total workforce, and our expectation is that over time, the economy will see a gradual development of interest in the benefits of temping and contracting by both job seekers and organisations.”

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