Category: Human resources

Employing agency workers

20 Aug 2019

If you are intending to supplement your workforce with additional agency workers over the Christmas season, or for other periods, e.g. maternity cover, have you thought about their rights? 

Agency workers differ from employees in terms of how they are classed, and have certain rights and entitlements that you should be aware of.

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 for a temporary period. Agency workers may cover a period of maternity leave, or provide extra support for a particular task or during a busy period.

What are agency workers entitled to, and when?

Most 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

Agency workers should also have the same access to facilities as employees do, such as staff canteens, childcare and transport, and have access to information regarding job vacancies.

After the 12-week qualifying period, agency workers are entitled to the same rights as those employed directly by the company. This includes:

  • 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 –including any annual leave above what is required by law.
  • Paid time off – for example, to attend ante-natal appointments during their working hours. This is regardless of their employment status.

If you hire agency workers, you must provide the agency that supplies your workers with up to date information on your terms and conditions. This is to ensure that the worker receives the correct equal treatment, as if they had been recruited directly, after 12 weeks in the same job. You are also 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.

For further support and information regarding the employment rights of agency workers, contact Sylvia Goddard on 0207 299 1439 or at sgoddard@geraldedelman.com

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