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Brexit: Long-term effects on short-term labour

With the process of Brexit ongoing there are lots of unanswered questions. One uncertainty in particular is the effect that Brexit will have on the UK labour market, especially when it comes to areas such as short-term labour which have come to rely on EU workers.

60% of those who supplied agency workers in the warehousing sector within the last 12 months indicate that 50 per cent or more of their temporary assignments were filled by EU workers

But it's not just the warehousing sector that has become hugely reliant on EU workers, food & drink and hospitality also reported high percentages of their vacancies being filled by EU workers.

The UK labour market is tighter than ever with many employers finding that labour demand is not being met by the available labour pool. With unemployment rates being at their lowest since 1975, over the last 12 months, 42% of businesses felt that they had been unable to meet their short-term / seasonal staffing requirements.  

Why is short-term labour so important?
Many businesses have busy periods and some are completely seasonal so offering short-term or temporary contracts allows them to meet customer demand without the unnecessary overhead of a permanent member of staff. Businesses are able to operate profitably and therefore grow because they only take on resource when it is needed.

What about the British?
Temporary work can often be looked down upon by British workers as they are ideally searching for permanent positions. However, short-term or temporary contracts can offer valuable experience, support you financially through a gap in permanent employment and some offer a 'way in' that will evolve into something more permanent.

Changing perceptions
Without knowing what the outcome will be for EU workers, we must do what we can to change perceptions of short-term contracts and temporary work so that these assignments become more appealing to British workers. Recruitment agencies have a big role to play here and can help change perceptions by helping their workers keep a steady flow of work, when one temporary assignment is coming to an end, work with your recruitment agency to ensure they are already looking for your next placement.


The question of how we support Britains short-term staffing needs post-Brexit remains unanswered and there isn't one sure fire solution. In an ideal world, we would like to see a change in perceptions from UK workers alongside procedures that allow UK businesses to fill vacancies with EU workers if UK supply is low.