The Foreword to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Consultation document Success at Work, Consultation on measures to protect vulnerable agency workers (DTI, 2007) states that a cornerstone of the success of the UK labour market has been the flexibility of its workers combined with protections for such workers. Agency work is termed a ‘key element in our labour market—providing a route into employment for those previously excluded from it or economically inactive’. The document refers to the benefits of flexible agency workers as providing a surplus supply to manage seasonal demands and allowing for expansion of production without ‘permanent commitment’. This flexibility has, however, been achieved at a price. The flip side of flexibility is often increased worker vulnerability. This note analyses the changes made to the regulation of employment agencies by the Employment Act 2008 in the wider context of changes in the recruitment industry in the...

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