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Agency workers

Agency workers

SKU: 7.14
  • Advice

    You are classed an agency worker if you have a contract with an agency that places you with an employer. You might also be referenced as a ‘temp’. When you are on the job, it is the employer, not the agency, that tells you how you should do your work.


    Typically, you are an agency worker if all of the following criteria apply to you:

    • There is a contract between you and an agency;
    • You are temporarily supplied to an employer by the agency;
    • When you are working on a job, your work is controlled by the employer; and
    • You are not self-employed.


    You are not an agency worker if:

    • You work on a ‘managed service contract’ - these are contracts where the agency provides a service to the client, e.g., cleaning or catering, and it is the agency that tells you what to do on a day-to-day basis;
    • If you have found direct employment through an agency;
    • You work for an in-house temporary staffing bank - this is where a company employs its temporary workers directly and they only work for that business/employer; or
    • You are on secondment or loan from one organisation to another.


    When you're working through an agency, it's important to know if you're classed as an employee or a worker under employment status law. It affects what you're entitled to and what your obligations are. If you're self-employed and take on an assignment through an agency, this could mean you're classed as an employee or worker for the duration of the assignment.


    Your Employment Rights as an Agency Worker

    As an employee or worker, you have automatic rights from the beginning of your employment, in addition from the first day of your assignment, you have the same right as direct employees of the hiring organisation to use any shared facilities and services, e.g., car parking or transport services.


    Your Rights After 12 Weeks

    Your entitlement to rights increases, once you’ve worked on the same assignment at the same organisation for 12 weeks. This is called the 12-week minimum qualifying period under the law. These rights cover:

    • Pay;
    • Holiday;
    • Sick leave;
    • Pensions;
    • Working hours and rest breaks;
    • Access to permanent job vacancies at the hiring organisation;
    • Parental time off; and
    • Ending employment and dismissal.


    A week counts as any 7 days that you work in, from the day your assignment began. (A week still counts towards the 12-week qualifying period if you do not work because of pregnancy, childbirth, maternity leave (this includes leave you to take during pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after the birth), paternity leave or adoption leave).


    A week does not count towards the 12-week qualifying period if:

    • The total break you have between 2 periods of work is no more than 6 weeks;
    • You’re absent due to sickness or jury service for 28 weeks or less;
    • You take any of your holiday entitlement; or
    • The workplace shuts down - e.g., for Christmas or industrial action.


    Your 12-week qualifying period will begin again if you…

    • Go back to the same assignments after a break of 6 weeks or more that is not due to any of the reasons listed above (in the ‘not’ column);
    • Go back to the same role after 28 weeks’ absence due to sickness or jury service; or
    • Start a new assignment with a hiring organisation.

    Under the Agency Workers Regulations, agencies are not allowed to create patterns of assignments that stop you from reaching the 12-week qualifying period. If you think your agency may be doing this, you can report them to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).


    Pay Rights

    As an agency worker, you have the same pay rights as other employees and workers. This includes, being paid at least the National Minimum Wage (and without having illegal deductions taken from your pay); being paid on time and by the agreed method, and receiving payslips. Likewise, after you’ve reached the 12-week qualifying period, you’re entitled to the same rate of pay as direct employees of the hiring organisation. This is known as ‘the right to equal treatment in pay’.


    Changes to the law from April 2020 - Agency workers and Equal Pay

    Some agencies might have arranged to pay an agency worker between assignments to stop them from getting the right to the same pay ('derogating from the right to equal treatment to pay'). But by law from 6 April 2020 these contracts are no longer valid, the agency worker may still make a complaint about such a contract, even if it was before 6 April; and the agency may still offer an agency worker a permanent employment contract and pay between assignments, but the agency worker will be entitled to equal treatment to pay after 12 weeks.


    Holiday Rights

    You have the same right as other workers and employees to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' paid holiday each 'leave year' when you’re on an assignment. Likewise, you build up or ‘accrue’ holiday entitlement from the first day of your entitlement. After the 12-week qualifying period, you have the right to the same amount of holiday and holiday pay as direct employees of the hiring organisation.


    How we can help

    We would take instructions from you to negotiate terms with your employment agency on your behalf. To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.

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