Why temps are bad for your health

businessman in front of painted figuresKeith Levit/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

A new report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has warned that while temps make businesses more profitable, they spell disaster for permanent staff - who are likely to get sick and earn less as a result.

So how can temps harm your health and your wallet?

Temps popular

The report found that temporary workers were the lifeblood of many businesses, who can ship in temporary staff when they need them and ditch them at a moment's notice.

David Woods, deputy editor of HR Magazine, told AOL: "The UK is very keen to use temporary workers. Coming out of the recession they have made a lot of sense for businesses who are uncertain about permanent recruitment and yet need more workers to meet demand."
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The price

However, it's the permanent staff who are paying the price. The NIESR researchers found that permanent staff were likely to feel less satisfied with their jobs, and suffer more from anxiety when they knew there were agency workers in the business. The use of temporary staff also drove down wages for full-time employees by as much as 5%.

Interestingly, these workers didn't have to be in the same role, or even in the same department to have an effect. It is unlikely, therefore, that they bring on a fear of direct replacement.

The bigger picture

Instead, it's more likely that the culture of a business that uses temps is more profit oriented and cost conscious, which can breed a more pressurised working environment. Alex Bryson, the report author, added: "[Temps] seem to have an adverse effect on employees' experiences at work, perhaps due to a more labour intensive regime."

Woods says the problem is unlikely to be the temps themselves: "If the very fact of having temps in the workplace makes permanent employees feel disengaged then there would have to be bigger issues within the organisation. Having temporary workers is very common in a lot of sectors: take retail for example where you would always expect temporary workers in the summer or at Christmas. You don't see the permanent staff becoming disengaged purely because temps are called in."

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