Employing Agency Workers

If you are supplementing your workforce with additional agency workers over the busy Christmas season, or for other periods eg maternity cover, have you thought about their rights? Agency workers differ from employees in terms of how they are classed, and with certain rights and entitlements.

What is an Agency Worker?

An agency worker is defined by Acas as a worker supplied by a temporary work agency to a client/hirer to work normally for a temporary period. Agency workers may be used to cover a period of maternity leave, or to carry out work for a particular task. This can be the case for busy periods, depending on the industry, where Christmas can increase demand for products and services.

What are Agency Workers entitled to, and when?

Agency staff are classed as workers rather than employees, but once they have worked a 12 week period they are entitled to the same employment rights as employees.

From Day 1 of their employment Agency workers are entitled to certain employment rights, such as:

  • paid annual leave
  • rest breaks and limits on working time
  • the National Minimum Wage
  • no unlawful deductions from wages
  • discrimination rights under the Equality Act 2010
  • health and safety at work.

They should also have the same access to facilities such as staff canteens, childcare and transport as a comparable employee of the hirer, and have access to information regarding job vacancies.

After the 12-week qualifying period, they are then entitled to further rights, specifically the same basic conditions of employment as if they had been directly employed by the hirer on day one of the assignment, including

  • pay – including any fee, bonus, commission, or holiday pay relating to the assignment. It does not include redundancy pay, contractual sick pay, and maternity, paternity or adoption pay
  • working time rights – for example, including any annual leave above what is required by law.

Agency Workers (regardless of their employment status) are also entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments during their working hours.

If you hire agency workers, you must provide the agency that provides your workers with up to date information on your terms and conditions so that they can ensure that an agency worker receives the correct equal treatment, as if they had been recruited directly, after 12 weeks in the same job. You are responsible for ensuring that all agency workers can access your facilities and are able to view information on your job vacancies from their first day with you.

Further information

If you need any further information regarding the employment rights of agency workers, contact me today.



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