The Development of a Sector of Temporary Workers in France

The use of temporary workers is a major feature of the French labour market. It is particularly widespread in sectors where seasonal immigration has a significant impact on the supply of goods and services, such as vegetable and fruit farming or lumbering. It also provides the French economy with a national reserve of labour and boosts the profitability of certain businesses, including catering, hotel management and tourism. But it puts a downward pressure on wages and makes employment precarious, with serious implications for the health and social integration of these workers. URL

Temporary Work and Flexibility: Adapting to Changing Labor Market Needs

Moreover, it exacerbates the duality of the French labour market between permanent contracts and short-term contracts (CDD, CDD, etc). People employed on fixed-term or temporary contracts tend to remain in these jobs for several years, even after receiving offers of permanent positions with their current employers or with beneficiary companies. They are therefore less likely to receive professional training and have more difficulty accessing housing and credit.

This article outlines the development of a distinctive sector of temporary employment agencies in France based on a variegated capitalism model, under increasingly permissive regulatory conditions. It explains how the agency sector developed despite considerable cultural, political and trade union opposition. The analysis reveals that large agencies were able to build legitimacy by developing relations with partners in the labour movement. This allowed them to develop a regulated market for temporary work under politico-institutional conditions that were contingent upon global developments.