Agency workers – What you should know

Agency work is appealing to a lot of people throughout the UK, especially those that are in between permanent employment. However, it is important to know your rights as an agency worker, as it can be somewhat confusing. With that in mind, below we reveal everything you need to know about being an agency worker.

Firstly, it is important to know who is regarded as an agency worker. You are a regarded as an agency worker should you have a contract with an established agency yet you work for an employer on a temporary basis. If the following things apply to you, you are an agency worker:

  • You are not self-employed.
  • When you are working, the employer controls your job.
  • You have a contract with an agency.
  • The agency temporarily supplies you to an employer.

If the following applies to you, you are not known as an agency worker:

  • You are on loan or secondment from one organisation to another.
  • You have found direct employment with an employer through a recruitment agency or by yourself.
  • You work for an in-house temporary staffing bank.
  • You work on a Managed Service Contract.
  • You have found work via a temporary work agency, but you are actually self-employed.

Know your rights

You should now know whether you are classed as an agency worker or not. If you are, it is important to know your rights. As an agency worker, you should expect to be paid the minimum wage and you should not be discriminated against simply because you might work only part time, or because of your age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, gender reassignment, or disability. You should also have paid holidays, a set limit on the hours you work in a week (although there are some exceptions), and you should not have unlawful deductions made from your wages.

Other rights include working in a safe work place, as well as statutory sick pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, and statutory maternity pay if you meet the qualifying conditions. You also have a right to unpaid parental leave, so long as you meet the necessary conditions, and you should be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance meeting.

What you may not be entitled to

There are some rights you don’t have, however, which you should also be aware of. For example, you do not have rights to a written statement of the main terms and condition of your employment. You also cannot claim parental, adoption, paternity, or maternity leave. You also cannot claim statutory redundancy pay or unfair dismissal if you are sacked without good cause or any notice. The latter is particularly important; as it means agency workers have a lack of security compared with other more traditional routes into employment. However, the temporary nature of agency work lends itself better to people that aren’t looking for something permanent and secure in any case.

Another thing you need to be aware of is that your agency may ask you to put your signature on a pay agreement between your assignments contract. This means that you are still an agency employee, however, the rights you have are not the same as other workers who are agency workers. This is because the agency shall pay you should you finish one job then you have a period without work while you wait to start the next one. With this, you obviously have the benefit of more stability, as you will be paid during lulls in jobs. On the other hand, you are not going to have the rights to the exact same pay that the other employees get in the workplace you are sent to. This applies even if you have been working for 12 weeks or more in the same job while working for the same employer.

Contract details

All of our other rights will be the same when it comes to pay between assignment contracts. However, you do need to make sure that your contract states all of the following:

  • The sort of work you are expected to do.
  • The minimum hours that the agency are guaranteeing to pay you while you are on a job. One hour is the very minimum.
  • The maximum hours that the agency expects you to do while you are on a job.
  • The hours which you are expected to work throughout any job you are sent to.
  • Where you are going to work and if you are expected to travel.
  • The minimum rates of pay you will receive.
  • You aren’t on a fixed-term contract.
  • You are an employee of the agency and you have a contract of employment with them

Hopefully, you now have a better idea regarding who is an agency worker and who is not an agency worker, as well as an understanding regarding your rights. It is important that you are fully aware of all this before you take on agency work, as you don’t want to find yourself in a position whereby you are being treated unfairly.