Agency workers – when best to use them?

Jun 7, 2021 | Good Management

Many of our small business clients use agency workers. They offer flexibility and can be easier to manage in that you just pay an agency for the supply of their services but don’t employ the workers directly.

The workers are either employed by the agency, or they might be under what’s called a contract of service or similar, and instead be classed as casual workers. But the idea is that the agency deals with all that and leaves the end-user employer free to use the workers in a flexible way, for a fee.

But under what circumstances might agency workers be the right option for you? Here are some ideas about when you might want to take this step to meet your staffing needs:

One off events

If you have one-off projects or occasional events, which could include trade shows or similar events, you may need short term extra hands. Using agency workers can save the extra effort and time that recruiting perhaps large numbers of people would take you, and give you the ability to increase your workforce to cover your event.

Seasonal peaks

If yours is a very seasonal business, with very identifiable peaks in demand, meeting these increased demands with flexible agency staff might be a good option. If the peaks are longer, then taking on staff as casual workers or fixed term contracts might be better, but for short peaks, the hassle and expensive of frequent recruitment exercises might not be worth it.

Unexpected demand

Although obviously good business planning should enable you to predict staffing requirements, if you are lucky enough to have a sudden increase in demand for what your business does, perhaps due to outside events influencing the market you operate in, you may find you need to engage some agency workers on a short term basis to ensure you can meet customers’ needs. You might then be able to take the agency workers on directly if you want to, or it might at least give you some breathing space to assess whether the increased demand is going to continue, and make plans to increase your workforce longer term.

Staff absence

Some staff absence is predictable, such as holidays, but things like sickness absence or emergency leave are not. Whether it’s predictable absence or not, if the work your employee is doing isn’t of the kind that can wait and you need a certain number of ‘bodies’ on the ground, agency staff can be a good way to meet that need.


Agency workers can be invaluable in all these circumstances, but they are unlikely to be a sensible way of filling longer-term or more regular needs for your business. If you have long-term or more regular requirements for staff, then (depending on the circumstances) looking at permanent employment, fixed term contracts or zero hours/casual agreements is likely to be the best way forward.



If you would like more information about using agency workers in your business, please get in touch.