In 2018, 800,000 people were employed with at least one work contract through an employment agency with all the rights and benefits of their employees. Half of them are under 34 years old. In Italy the average number of workers employed through an agency is 428,296 per month.
These are some of the latest findings of the Assolavoro Datalab Observatory made based on data from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, Istat, Inps, Inail and Anpal.
The research data
“Employment Agencies consistently employ about 10,000 people in 2,500 branches and another 59,000 who have a permanent contract. Every year they then carry out research and selection for a further 50 thousand people, hired directly and permanently by the client companies”, Alessandro Ramazza, President of Assolavoro, specifies.
The numbers indicate that at least one third of the workers employed on agency temporary contract, after having gone through an Employment Agency, has access to a stable occupation. And that young people entering the labor market through an agency with a temporary contract are more likely to transit to a stable contract both in terms of those finding a first job with a fixed-term contract, and of people initially hired with a collaborative or intermittent work contract.
“The stabilization rate calculated as the percentage of those who, having entered with a temporary contract, 12 months apart, are employed with a permanent or apprenticeship contract, or whose fixed-term contract is converted into a permanent contract, is in fact equal to 18.1% in the case of young employees”, Ramazza underlines, “and drops to 13.6% for young people hired for the first time with a temporary contract. It is even lower for the other types of work such as the intermittent contract (8.8%) and collaborations (8.6%)".
Agency work and rights
Research shows that temporary contracts, even intermittent work, are the most direct pathway to stability, with greater protection for the employee. A status threatened by the “Dignità Decree” which, wanting to make permanent contracts more attractive to companies has effectively curbed them. “Since July 2018, after a positive cycle started in 2013, temping has experienced a sharp slowdown, coinciding with the law reform. The effect has led to a gap between those who have the most marketable skills and who have had faster access to stable contracts and those who, being less competitive, have slipped out of temp contracts”, Ramazza underlines.
But the decrease in temping is not leading to an increase, as the law makers expected, of stable contracts, but on the contrary it is growing the numbers of precarious types of work.
The Inps Observatory on precariousness, analyzing statistics on contracts, shows that while on the one hand temping has lost about 105 thousand contracts between July and December 2018 in comparison to the volume of contracts from the same period of 2017, on the other hand other direct contract forms show signs of expansion. “Consulting services have grown by 51 thousand more contracts", the president underlines, "as well as intermittent contracts increasing by 15 thousand more hires comparing the two periods. And finally seasonal contracts are growing with an increase of almost 11 thousand units ".
Agency work: Formatemp e Ebitemp
The risk related to temporary contracts lies in particular in the safeguards relating to salary levels and welfare. "This is because employment agencies can boast a training system that is a reference model throughout Europe and a real sector welfare, additional to the services provided for employees of the user company and entirely financed with private resources", Ramazza explains.
The training of employment agencies is financed by the Formatemp fund. "This is a fund that was created by the Agencies that by law “add ", so to speak, 4% to the total salaries paid to temporary workers with whom they create this reservoir," the president continues. “In 2018 Employment Agencies provided free training to 270,000 people with an investment of over 230 million euro. More than 38,000 training projects were funded, with a strong focus on 4.0 and digital manufacturing, the subject of at least half of the trainings”.
On the welfare front, on the other hand, temporary workers through an Agency can count on real sector security. Assolavoro, in fact, together with the trade unions, has created Ebitemp, the National Bilateral Agency for Temporary Work, which offers numerous services in favor of temporary workers, says the president. "We particularly highlight the measures of income support, for maternity and nursery, small loans at zero percent interest or heavily subsidized rates, health and dental insurance, reimbursements for transport costs up to 50%".
In 2018 Ebitemp spent 8 million euro for welfare benefits provided for in the National Collective Labor Agreement. There were 28,752 requests presented to the bilateral body, with an increase of 27.5% compared to 2017.
A model on the backburner
Employment Agencies are thus confirmed as the main entry door to stable employment in particular for young people, much more than any other channel. "Our strength lies in the model, based on the one hand on the knowledge of companies and workers and on the matching between supply and demand, and on the other on targeted and specific training", explains Ramazza, “A model that, despite the numbers proving it to be the best possible, has to date been mostly ignored by institutions. Institutions that, every time they have dealt with labor topics in the last few years, have never involved us. We have always worked side by side with the production framework and with the union representatives, dialoging with the workers. We have an experience that should be exploited," Ramazza closes.