Empowering the Freelance Economy

“Exploited?” Why Britain’s temp workers are losing out on £97m each year

Most temp workers in the UK are unaware that they can claim holiday pay, leaving millions of pounds unclaimed each year. Who is to blame? Photo by Mizuno K via Pexels
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OPINION

Many of UK’s 1.6m temps are estimated to be missing out on thousands every year individually. What can they do about it? Julia Kermode of IWORK offers some tips.


Amid a 40-year inflation high, soaring energy bills and rising mortgage payments, the UK’s 1.6m temporary workers have been urged to claim the estimated £97m worth of unclaimed holiday pay from the employment agencies and umbrella companies engaging them.

This is the advice of the support group for independent workers, IWORK, that has brought to light that many of the UK’s flexible workforce are missing out on their statutory right to paid holiday every year. 

Julia Kermode of IWORK says temp workers are missing out on thousands of pounds worth of unclaimed holiday pay

IWORK has raised the alarm that temporary workers – many of whom operate through umbrella companies and employment agencies – are not being made aware of their right to receive holiday pay. And if they don’t know they should be receiving paid holiday, they are unlikely to be claiming it.  

If just 2% of the UK’s temp population is missing out on a £3,000 annual holiday pay entitlement (based on an average annual salary of £26,000), then £97m is being unclaimed in the UK alone. 

Julia Kermode, Founder of IWORK

IWORK founder Julia Kermode says £97m is a staggering figure, but in reality, it’s very likely just “the tip of the iceberg”. With the cost of living crisis taking hold and people spiralling into debt, it’s vital that temporary workers claim what’s rightfully theirs.

“It’s a little-known fact that the UK’s 1.6 million temporary workers are entitled to receive the same annual holiday as employees,” says Kermode. “Yet most temps – who often move immediately from one assignment to another – don’t know they should be claiming it. And all too often, they aren’t helped by a minority of unscrupulous agencies and umbrella companies that hide the fact that temps have a right to paid holiday in the small print of their terms,” she says.

Kermode believes that temporary workers are incredibly valuable to the economy. “They’re an unseen army of unsung heroes who prop up businesses in their times of need,” she says.

However, she says that they are “at risk of being exploited”. She reiterates that this practice isn’t representative of all umbrellas and recruitment agencies. That said, if temps are not informed and later encouraged to claim paid holiday, then one has to question why not?

Compliant umbrella companies and agencies must take a stand and ensure that these workers receive “what’s owed to them.”

The campaign’s call to action for temporary workers to kickstart holiday pay-related conversations with their respective engagers is underpinned by the hashtags #doyougetyours and #askforitgetit.

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