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  • Kristin Alsos & Kristine Nergaard

Arbeidsvilkår for ansatte i bemanningsbransjen – en litteraturstudie

  • Arbeidsnotat, juni 2024
  • Arbeidsnotat, juni 2024

I dette notatet oppsummerer vi tidligere forskning og kartlegginger om arbeidsvilkår for ansatte i bemanningsforetak. Hovedtilnærmingen har vært å lete etter studier som sier noe om vilkårene, og der disse ansatte sammenlignes med andre i atypiske arbeidsforhold eller i faste heltidsjobber. Vi har inkludert studier som har undersøkt ulike sider ved innleides arbeidsvilkår, herunder lønn, arbeidstid, kompetanseutvikling, jobbsikkerhet, og fysiske og psykososiale arbeidsmiljøfaktorer.

A review of the research literature examining working conditions for employees in temporary work agencies (temporary agency workers, TAW) reveals a significant variation in research questions and methodological approaches. We primarily included studies from the past 20 years and those based on European data. In total, 60 studies are included. The conditions for TAW depend on many factors, including regulations and other institutional conditions that may vary between different countries. Therefore, individual studies based on conditions in one country may not be relevant for others. However, if numerous studies based on various institutional contexts point in the same direction, this suggests that the findings may be applicable across different countries and industries. In the following, we summarise the studies thematically.

Temporary agency work establishes a triangular employment relationship between the TAW, the agency, and the client company. This can influence the tasks assigned to the TAW and the extent to which they are integrated into the client company’s organisation, which in turn can affect various aspects of their working conditions. Studies find that the situation for certain groups of TAW has similarities with other atypical forms of employment, even where the TAW are on permanent contracts. The challenges seem to vary depending on the industries to which employees are leased, and are exacerbated in cross-border situations.

The literature review shows that TAW generally have poorer psychosocial working conditions than other employees. This pertains to various aspects of the psycho-social work environment, such as job satisfaction, task variety, autonomy, and access to information. The results are more mixed regarding social relations and stress, but there are indications that stress levels have been increasing. Several studies also find that being a TAW is associated with negative health effects, though without necessarily demonstrating a causal relationship. The findings related to the psychosocial work environment also apply in cases where the TAW have permanent contracts with the agency, which is often explained by the nature of the staffing industry and the short-term horizon of assignments. Fewer studies have examined the physical work environment of TAW, but contributions in this area also suggest that TAW are more susceptible to injuries than other employees.

TAW more frequently perceive their job security as poor compared to directly employed staff. This also holds for studies that compare leased employees with other types of atypical employees, and some studies that compare TAW with permanent contracts with permanently employed direct employees. Dissatisfaction with job security is also a factor contributing to lower satisfaction with other aspects of the employment relationship. A considerable number of studies investigate the relationship between working as a TAW from a staffing agency and labour market outcomes in terms of transitions to more secure jobs, prolonged insecurity, or risk of unemployment. The conclusions are not unequivocal. While some conclude that such jobs serve as a transition to what are termed regular jobs, others find evidence that such jobs can be a trap. Studies differentiating between various groups of employees, including several Norwegian studies, indicate that transition rates are lowest for employees with immigrant backgrounds or low formal qualifications.

One issue highlighted as a challenge related to temporary agency work is that TAW receive less training and skill development compared to directly employed staff. This is linked to aspects of the triangular employment relationship, the often short-term nature of assignments, and the fact that tasks are often characterised as low-skilled. Studies comparing wage levels tend to find a negative wage gap for leased employees compared to directly employed staff. The size of this wage gap varies between studies, but also among different groups of leased employees. Some studies also find an opposite effect, or that there are no observable differences for certain types of employees.

  • Published: 5. June 2024