Recruitment Agencies – Why They Could Be The Perfect Work Option For You in 2021

What springs to mind when you hear the words ‘recruitment agency’? For me, the image used to be pushy salespeople in ill-fitting suits, who just wanted to earn commission and try to you into taking placements you didn’t really want and spending the whole day thoroughly cold and miserable with the pay being low too… Ok, so enough of my experience of being a teenager working as a temporary fruit-packer for a small agency back in the 90s! Let’s talk about the reality of a good agency today and how it may not be quite how you had imagined.

Similar to second-hand car dealers, estate agents and double-glazing salespeople, agency work is one of those industries that sometimes gets a bad rep but of course there is always the good, bad and the ugly in any profession; so how have things moved on? How could a recruitment agency be the perfect employment solution for you, and what should you be looking out for if considering working for one?

There are a wide range of recruitment agencies out there. It has been reported that there were nearly 40,000 recruitment/staffing agencies registered in the UK preceding the Pandemic year of 2020.  Of these, some will be generalist and cover multiple industries, some will specialise in specific sectors such as catering, industrial or teaching. Some will only cover local placements and others will work nationally. Finding the right fit for you is important and being able to work collaboratively with an agency who will do their best for you is key.

Flexibility and Choice

There are many worthwhile benefits to working through an agency. Many will not only cover temporary or casual jobs, but long-term contracts and permanent roles too. The great thing about this is that you can really look to find something that fits around your life and commitments.

In comparison to full-time employment where it can be difficult to juggle annual leave with those day-to-day things that pop up without 3 months’ notice or if you just decide that you’d like a week off without having to have it agreed by your full-time employer, with agency work and temporary placements, you have the freedom to decide when you work and when you don’t. Since the country’s ongoing Lockdowns throughout 2020/21 due to Covid-19 and the impact this has had on our workforce, many people have put greater emphasis on seeking better work-life balance. Being able to choose your available working days is an important aspect of why many people enjoy being part of an agency’s workforce.

Recruitment agencies can give you access to a variety of roles, locations and places of work. For those who relish the challenge of new placements on a regular basis, temporary roles may be a great choice or for those who like the more structured and ongoing working-life, long-term placements or permanent vacancies may be a better fit. Many people who undertake agency work enjoy the diversity of jobs and the availability of options and that’s the beauty of it, there are possibilities for everyone.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that latest employment vacancy estimates from February to April 2021, continue to show signs of recovery and that available job vacancies in March to May 2021 was 758,000, only 27,000 below the level before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (January to March 2020) and that most industries have recovered to show vacancies above pre-pandemic levels.

The Pandemic fall out saw high volumes of people seeking work due to closures, redundancies and reduced wages with few jobs available; the tables have now turned, and many employers have chosen to seek out the support of recruitment agencies to help fill the staffing shortages, allowing them more time to focus on getting businesses back up and running without the very time-consuming task of planning, advertising, shortlisting and interviewing candidates.

Workers’ Rights

People are often surprised to hear that when working through a reputable and professional recruitment agency, you are given access to the same rights and entitlements that a fixed contract brings, offering peace of mind and stability for you as a worker. Pension contributions, Statutory Sick Payments, Maternity/Paternity Pay are all still applicable and Holiday Pay is accrued for every hour worked, meaning as a worker you can still have continuity of pay even when you choose to take time off.

Recruitment Agencies in 2021

Things to consider when looking at working for a Recruitment Agency

Not all agencies are made the same! All agencies will have their own ways of working however, there are some things to look out for that can help you decide if an agency is right for you. It should be about collaboration between yourself and the agency and ensuring  you feel valued in the work you do, whether you’re working for one day or on an ongoing basis.

Industry Expert?

Does the agency have good industry knowledge for the field you’re looking to work in? The recruiters should be ‘experts’ meaning they will have a great understanding of the type of roles they are hiring for and the demands each of those roles will entail. Do they take the time to get to know a bit more about you and understand your needs and requirements for work? Do they have a good variety of available roles?

Looking after their workers?

Does the agency put an emphasis on compliance and regulations? Are they members of any of the recruitment governing bodies such as REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) or BIOR (The British Institute of Recruiters)? A professional agency will be ensuring they are meeting all regulations and are taking the time and resources to ensure staff are fully complaint, providing security for clients and workers and themselves as a business.

Fair pay?

Check out how the whole pay system works before undertaking any placements. Reputable agencies will pay their workers on a weekly basis and ensure that tax and National Insurance deductions are made. They will be transparent regarding hourly rates and offer fair pay. Less reputable agencies have been known to charge ‘admin’ fees for dealing with this element of payment or will use holiday pay to ‘top-up’ the hourly rates offered. Be sure to ask how holiday pay is accrued and if it will be paid in its entirety.

IR35 Implications?

With recent changes to IR35 (regarding tax legislation and tax avoidance), if you are self-employed, operate your own limited business or Personal Service Company (PSC), check that your agency is well versed in the new IR35 regulations; ensuring you only work under these statuses as detailed in the legislation, preventing any unwanted attention from HMRC!


If you’re considering a change of direction, looking for a change or just interested to see what’s out there in the marketplace currently, recruitment agencies can be a fantastic way to find opportunities and a whole host of options. Check they are a reputable business and will do their best to work with you to find a great fit…it will be time well spent.

Recruitment Agencies – Why They Could Be The Perfect Work Option For You in 2021
Recruitment Agencies – Why They Could Be The Perfect Work Option For You in 2021
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