The Rights of Agency Workers
Agency workers often see their employment as a stepping stone to getting their foot in the door of a particular company or use it to gain valuable experience to further their career aspirations .Many agency workers choose to let an employment agency find them work because for some it gives them Flexible Working Hours. They might take up agency work as it offers them more flexibility if they need to balance their work with other commitments and it also allows them to try out different types of job and to move from job to job more easily.
Whatever the motive for finding work via an agency - you have rights too. They include being protected by the National Minimum Wage, health and safety legislation, social security provisions, equality legislation and working time legislation. All of the legislation regarding these issues are contained within other articles on this website and apply equally to agency workers as they do to employed members of staff. In addition to government legislation, there are also other facts you should be aware of when dealing with your rights as an agency worker.
What Agencies Can’t DoAgencies cannot charge you a fee for finding work on your behalf nor can they charge you for services like writing your CV in an effort to get you work. They must also give you written terms and conditions of your work agreement with them and you are under no obligation to only register with the one agency. In fact, if you register with a few, you stand a far better chance of getting the type of work you’re seeking. Also, if you’re offered full-time employment on staff at one of the companies the agency has found you work at, the agency cannot stop you taking it and there’s a limit on what the company might have to pay the agency once they take over your employment – often referred to as a ‘temp to perm’ fee.
Getting Your PayThe terms and conditions of your pay will be set out in the employment contract which the agency must provide you with. Usually, you’ll be required to complete a timesheet which a supervisor from the company you’ve been placed at must verify and sign then you must return this by a set date in order that the agency can process your pay on time. As mentioned, you are fully covered by the legislation on minimum wage and working time legislation so you should also check out the facts regarding this. One point of note worth mentioning here is that the agency must still pay you for work you have completed, even if they haven’t yet been paid by the company you’re working for.
Sickness and Maternity Pay and LeaveAgency workers are able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’ve worked at the same agency for over 3 months and you also qualify for Maternity or Paternity Pay but not Maternity or Paternity Leave.
Staff PerksIn spite of legislation when it comes to being treated the same as staff members within a particular company the agency has found you work at, agency workers may not get the same ‘perks’ as those who are directly employed by the company, e.g. holiday entitlements for agency workers might be different. In order to find out what you’re entitled to and how things might differ between you and a staff member, you should refer to your work contract and/or speak to the agency. Many companies will often choose to give the same perks to agency workers but they’re not compelled to do so and it wouldn’t be classed as unfair discrimination.
It’s important to know these rights and to Understand Your Employment Contract with the agency before you commit to working for them. And, if you feel you have been mistreated or discriminated against or that the agency has broken certain rules, you should contact the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) helpline on 0845 955 5105. They will be able to offer specialist advice and clarify anything which you don’t understand.
Fortunately, employment agencies are tightly regulated and they can be shut down for 10 years if they have been found to be in breach of the proper standards. And, if they have breached your contract, you can take them to court. Additionally, you can take them to an Employment Tribunal if they make any kind of unlawful deduction of your pay. The EAS are your first port of call if you experience problems with the agency if you feel it has contravened current legislation and, if you’re considering using an agency to find work for you, you should opt for one that is a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). There will usually be a sticker on their door or window if they’re a member and/or it will be stated on their letterheads. If you’re unsure, ask them to verify that.