How Temps Jobs Are Boosting Rising UK Employment Rates

We have seen the employment market heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Office for National Statistics shared an eye-opening statistic that between December 2020 to February 2021, there were an estimated 220,000 (27%) fewer job vacancies than a year earlier, before COVID-19.

Since March 2020, there has been a lack of confidence in the economy and many businesses have had to make cuts. This uncertainty has also resulted in cautious hiring by firms, both on a permanent and temporary basis, however as 2021 continues we are seeing some signs of more positive things to come.

The Office for National Statistics said that despite there being 27% fewer job vacancies between December 2020 and February 2021 than a year prior, this is an improvement on Summer 2020 when vacancies were down by 60%. Although this improvement has slowed in recent months.  

In this article, we explore what role temp jobs are having in helping to boost UK employment rates.

The Current Employment Market

For people currently out of work and looking for employment, it can be a very anxious time. The labour market is not nearly as buoyant as it was pre-Covid and despite the furlough scheme, UK unemployment is expected to rise in 2021.

According to the Office for National Statistics the most recent unemployment rate – from November 2020 to January 2021 – was 5%, which is the highest figure for five years.

The sectors which have faced the most severe restrictions have understandably been the worst hit, including workers in hospitality, retail and entertainment. 

What Do The Statistics Show?

Specifically, regarding temporary employment, the Office for National Statistics states ‘68,000 more people were in payrolled employment in February 2021, when compared with January 2021; this is the third consecutive monthly increase.’ This is more positive news and hopefully, with the vaccine rollout and the imminent lifting of lockdown, confidence will continue to grow. Although we are nowhere near to being back to normality with regards to hiring, these figures show us that things are starting to head in the right direction and hopefully this will only increase as 2021 continues.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation added, ‘The latest Report on Jobs showed that the labour market coped remarkably well in February, despite the national lockdown. Permanent placements declined modestly… Meanwhile, businesses have continued to use temporary work to help them through this tough period.’ Below we look at reasons this could be.


With so many people working from home and so much uncertainty in the market, we have seen an increase in clients wanting to hire on a temp basis, which fills their position quickly in the short term but allows flexibility in the long term.

Pay by the hour

An advantage of a temporary candidate, is you only pay for the hours you need. Therefore, a business can be confident that it is only spending what is absolutely essential to get the job done.

Not on the payroll

The advantage of having a temporary employee is that they do not add to a business’s headcount as they are employed by a recruitment agency and on their payroll. Therefore, a company that may be under a strict recruitment freeze, can usually still hire temporary support if there is a business need.

No contract

A temp candidate is employed through the recruitment agency that represents them and does not have a contract with the company where they are temping. Therefore there is no notice period required and a temp can be sourced with little notice required. This flexibility allows businesses to remain adaptable during uncertain times but still have the manpower required.


Due to redundancies, there are also more candidates immediately available in the market, many of whom are happy to complete a temporary assignment whilst they continue to search for a permanent role.


To conclude, although it has been a very challenging employment market in the UK, things are starting to look more positive, with temporary work offering a stop-gap for many businesses and individuals, and we are expecting to see quarterly increases in the labour market as 2021 continues.

About the author

Auria Heanley is co-founder of Oriel Partners, a boutique PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. She is extremely passionate about providing the highest quality of service to both clients and candidates. Oriel Partners’ clients range from global multinationals to small boutique firms, all requiring the same personal service and high calibre support.

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