Latest Comensura Government Index reveals an increase in employers’ reliance on temporary labour across managerial and professional roles

During the final quarter of 2012, temporary labour usage among Local Authorities decreased by only 0.1%, when compared to the same period in 2011. The minor decrease shown in Comensura’s Government Index was the lowest quarterly decrease in 2012 and signals a trend for minor increases of up to 2% in temporary labour usage in 2013.

The research, gathered by Comensura, the supply management specialists, revealed increases in the use of temporary labour in the public sector in IT, sales/marketing, legal and professional.* These job categories saw increases in the last quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year, up 34%, 33%, 31% and 19% respectively. Meanwhile, there have been decreases in the use of temporary workers in roles for call centres (-34%), construction (-23%), transportation (-36%) and hospitality (-40) since the same time last year.

Jamie Horton, Managing Director at Comensura, said of the results, “This is a transition period in an age of austerity. The initial reaction to spending cuts was a blanket cut in the use of temporary labour in Local Authorities. However as time moves on and the cuts move deeper, redundant roles or vacant positions appear to be being filled with temporary workers. We don’t expect this trend to change any time soon as the economic climate makes it difficult for organisations to gain authorisation for new permanent staff.

“The trend reflects the private sector, where a 5.5% increase in turnover from temporary and contract business drove the growth of the recruitment industry in 2012, however the pressure on Local Authorities to keep a hold on temporary worker spend is significant.”

From a regional perspective, London and the South East’s usage of temporary labour was flat. Meanwhile the North West, South West, Wales and West Midlands all increased usage on temporary labour in the last quarter of 2012. Some areas of the country have differing policies on temporary labour usage. While Local Authorities in the East Midlands have reduced temporary labour usage by 27%, Local Authorities in the West Midlands have adopted a different approach, increasing temporary labour usage by 31%. Virtually all the reduction in temporary labour usage in the East Midlands came from two job categories – light industrial and office/admin/clerical whereas the increases in the West Midlands came from volume increases in office/admin/clerical (which more than doubled) and social care.

Mr. Horton continued, “Some Local Authorities have replaced temporary resources with fixed term contracts in an attempt to save money. While this is an encouraging sign that Local Authorities are thinking smarter to meet demand amidst spending cuts, it’s important that effective workforce planning measures are in place to ensure spend is managed in the long-term.”

The Comensura Government Index shows the usage of temporary labour across 79 of Comensura’s clients in England and Wales during 2011 and 2012. The Index is distributed on a quarterly basis and uses a variety of metrics to measure the usage of temporary labour including Full Time Equivalent (FTE), the reasons for hire, job class, age and gender.

*Includes HR, procurement and other managerial roles