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Agency workers in social care: management, experience and access to voice at work

By Sophie Katherine Gamwell


This thesis focuses on three key areas of research interest: the way in which agency workers are managed, the impact of heterogeneity in agency work (particularly in relation to job security and the opportunity to act in response to problems at work) and the opportunity for representative voice. It offers insight in these areas that have, to date, been under-explored. The research examines two case studies, focusing on agency workers within the social care workforce. This primarily qualitative study has engaged with agency workers, managers and local and national union representatives using interviews as the main method of data collection.\ud This study concludes that the management of agency workers is fragmented and that control is divided between agencies and user organisations. It contributes to a growing literature around agency workers, advancing the view that agency workers are diverse and heterogeneous. Variations between agency workers affect their perceptions of different types of job security, and have a significant influence on their opportunity to act in response to problems at work. This thesis reviews the legal position of agency workers and concludes that equal treatment legislation is likely to increase the ability of some agency workers to mobilise, but that the absence of protection from arbitrary dismissal is likely to limit the ability of many agency workers to act in response to problems at work. It reviews the engagement between agency workers and trade unions, finding workplace indifference and rejection coupled with political lobbying for greater legal protection, and that should such protection be enacted it is likely to provide a stimulus for unionisation

Topics: HD, HV
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