If you are engaged by an Employment Business or Agency and placed at work with an employer, you do still enjoy some employment protection.
Initially you cannot claim many employment rights, such as redundancy or unfair dismissal as these are reserved for “employees” which excludes most agency and casual arrangements.
Recruitment agencies must give you written terms of employment before looking for work for you.
These should include:
- whether you are employed under a contract for services or a contract of employment
- your notice period
- details of your pay arrangements
- your holiday entitlement
An agency can’t change your terms and conditions without telling you.
If you agree to changes you must be given a new document with the full details of the changes and when they apply.
An agency cannot give information about you to any third parties (including current employers) without your permission – except for legal purposes or to a professional body to which you belong.
The agency may offer you a permanent contract of employment . If they do you become entitled to a guaranteed level of pay between jobs, or assignments. This makes you an employee of the agency.
You must be paid at least:
- 50% of your pay from your previous job, calculated at the highest rate of pay received during any 1 week, and no less than
- the National Minimum Wage
If the agency wants to end the contract:
- they must give you 4 weeks’ pay between assignments
- you might be entitled to certain rights, including notice pay and redundancy pay (if you have 2 years continuous service.)
In 2011 Agency Workers became entitled to a new range of protection and rights.
A Summary of Agency Worker Rights.
As a temporary agency worker you’re entitled to:
- paid holiday entitlement, which starts from day one (bank holidays may be included in your holiday entitlement – check with your agency)
- rest breaks and upper limits on your working time
- no unlawful deductions from wages
- the National Minimum Wage
- freedom from discrimination under equality legislation
- protection from unfair treatment if you work part time
- protection under health and safety laws
- details of job vacancies with your hirer
- protection under “whistleblowing” law
- the right to a companion in certain workplace meetings, like a grievance
- the same access to shared facilities and services at work as other comparable employees
Shared facilities and services might include:
- access to a canteen or food and drinks machines
- a workplace crèche or mother and baby room
- car parking or transport services (eg local pick up service, inter-site transport)
- a staff common room
- a prayer room
Your hirer can only refuse you access to facilities if they can ‘objectively justify’ denying you access. Cost alone is unlikely to be a sufficient reason.
In addition to the above, you qualify for equal treatment if you’ve worked in the same job with the same hirer for 12 weeks. This is known as the ‘qualifying period’.
This means that you become entitled to the same rate of pay; hours of work; rest breaks and holiday entitlement as an Employee of the hiring company – in other words the people you are working alongside who are doing similar work to you. Your Agency is responsible for making sure that this happens!
Note. If you are engaged through an Agency, or on a casual basis, this is really meant to be for a short period of time – weeks or months generally. If you have been placed with the same business for a long time, perhaps more than a year , it is possible that a contract of employment has arisen through “custom and practice”. So even if you do not have a written contract, once you have significant continuous service with the hirer Employer, you may have earned some employees rights.
If you have any concerns over your rights as an Agency Worker, contact us.