For thousands of staff in the industry, temping is the future, either for a few weeks with one company or on an ongoing contract that could last for two or three years.
And at one major travel company, some 20% of staff are temps.
True, temping does not have the same job security as a permanent position and there may be barriers to career progression, but the benefits for many outweigh these concerns.
Most recruitment agencies pay, on average, more than a permanent worker at the same company gets as temps are cheaper to employ. Typical pay is £10-£14 an hour for reservation staff.
Other benefits such as holiday pay are also on offer for temps and the more you work for an agency, the better the time off. Agencies also have to abide by maternity and paternity rules.
The only downside is there is no sick pay, but many temps say this is an incentive to stay healthy and make it into the shop or office.
Melissa Schembri, the temps manager at C&M Recruitment in central London, looks after 70 staff in the field.
She said: “The majority of our employees are backpackers, some older people and those who do not want a permanent job.
“Others have to do temporary work due to family illness. Temps are often paid higher rates than permanent staff and generally know exactly what their length of contract will be.”
Schembri helps place a range of staff in jobs in the sector, from reservations to middle management, and said the travel industry is very helpful to temporary staff.
“Travel is good for our consultants, it gives then plenty of notice of when the job is ending and this is essential,” she added.
Many companies in the sector are turning to temps as the industry continues to suffer uncertainties. Temps do not cost travel companies in terms of holiday and sick pay, maternity or paternity leave, and temps can have their contracts terminated almost immediately if there is a downturn in trade.
However, New Frontiers managing director Julia Feuell said European legislation is being formulated to give temps as many employment rights as permanent employees.
She said: “The legislation is trying to define staff rights more clearly, but this may cause problems for the Government and the industry in future.
Pay rates are higher for temps, for instance.”
She added temping is already costing the industry more in terms of increased regulations on health and safety, employment conditions and eligibility to work in the UK. However, this has pushed up the quality and made temporary staff more attractive to employers.
Recruitment companies all agree temping is on the rise within the industry and many employees are turning to temping to help their work-life balance.
With regard to ongoing temp contracts, Feuell posed the question ‘when is a temp not a temp?’ The job security may not be there but pay, flexibility and employment rights are.
For jobs in the travel industry see our travel jobs section or visit our partner, totaljobs.com for travel and tourism industry vacancies with some of the UK’s largest companies