Published on 3rd July 2023
Quality and cost-effective healthcare services are of crucial importance to economies around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic proved it, but it remains fundamental beyond this global crisis. Building and maintaining resilient health systems is especially necessary in the context of ageing societies worldwide.
The HR services industry, its agency work services in particular, are an important service provider in the labour market with a rising importance in healthcare. Experience from World Employment Confederation members shows that the national practices on the use of agency work in healthcare are quite diverse. Yet, overall, the agency work industry offers appropriate pay and working conditions to agency workers. WEC data shows that regulation on equal pay and /or equal treatment is applied in the large majority of its member countries.
The specific country’s approach to establishing regulation on equal treatment or equal pay is essential in the context of the discussion on agency work in healthcare and hospitals, as it has important implications for the costs of using agency work and staffing in healthcare. Wages and social security contributions are the main elements of the costs charged to healthcare institutions for agency work services. The (commercial) fee charged by the staffing or agency work company is not significantly different from other economic sectors and industries which need flexible and adaptable HR services solutions. Wages for agency workers in healthcare might rise further in the coming years due to labour shortages.
Balanced and appropriate national regulation is the basis for the effective use of agency work and staffing services in healthcare. As we see attempts in several countries to restrict this use, we are concerned that it risks aggravating the staff shortages that already prevail and therefore undermines the sustainability of healthcare systems. Agency work and staffing services represent a cost-effective solution to respond to peak in demand in the healthcare sector and therefore it should be encouraged as such.