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Healthcare workers want the work-life balance and greater family time facilitated by temporary work, but are held back by concerns over benefits, according to research released today (Tuesday 17 December 2019).

The research, carried out by recruitment experts Reed Specialist Recruitment asked 5,000 UK employees about their experience of, and attitude to, temporary and contract working.

Of the sample of 5,000, 438 respondents were from the healthcare sector.

The survey found that, while 11% considered non-permanent work to be their main job and only 7% held more than one temporary role, there was a real desire for the flexibility and variety offered by temporary work.

41% of people working in healthcare identified work-life balance as a positive of temporary working – higher than the national average of 37%. More than a third (36%) said that greater variety of work was a positive aspect of temporary employment, while a quarter (25%) said that the ability to see more of their families appealed to them.

Despite the positives experienced within the healthcare sector, more than half (56%) of those asked identified that they preferred the security of a permanent role. Almost half (46%) said they liked benefits such as sick pay and pensions which are part of permanent employment.   

Richard Taylor, director of Reed Public Services, said: “The service healthcare workers provide is invaluable making sure that the country keeps going and that people who need help can enjoy their lives with dignity.

"It is a very rewarding, yet intensive, sector which can involve unsociable hours. This is why the sector feels so strongly about work-life balance and spending more time with their family.

“With the turnover of certified nursing assistants reaching 27.7% last year, healthcare employers must research how they can retain more staff. Using temporary work to deliver greater work-life balance and yet still offer the benefits of pension and holiday pay – through agency policies – could be a way forward for a significant number who are tempted by these options.

“With an ageing population, the UK’s need will only increase. If we, as employers, can help to meet that demand with skilled, dedicated and passionate teams then we will do so any way we can. Temporary working is certainly one way to do so.”