Agency Worker Rights


Right to Equal treatment

From the day you start work you have a worker’s employment rights.

You have the same rights as your permanent colleagues to use any shared facilities and services provided by your employer,

For example:

  • Canteen or food & drinks machines
  • Childcare Facilities
  • Car parking or transport services, like a local pick-up service or transport between sites

Benefits in kind, like subsidised gym memberships or lease vehicles are not usually included.

Rights after 12 weeks

After 12 weeks in the job you qualify for the same rights as someone employed directly. This is known as ‘equal treatment’.

Your rights include:

  • ‘equal pay’ – the same pay as a permanent colleague doing the same job
  • automatic pension enrolment – Your agency should enrol you, although you have the right to opt out.
  • paid annual leave

You won’t be entitled to equal pay if you’re offered a ‘pay between assignments’ contract.

How to count your 12 week period

This period starts from your first day of work, you do not have to be at work for 12 weeks in a row.

A week, runs for 7 days from the day on which the job began. If the assignment began on a Thursday, the week would finish on the following Wednesday.

The qualifying period will pause for certain breaks such as:

  • A break taken by you of 6 weeks or less
  • Sickness absence for up to 28 weeks
  • If the workplace closes, for example at Christmas
  • Jury service for up to 28 weeks
  • Annual leave

Your qualifying period will continue to count if you have time off for pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after childbirth and also during Adoption & Paternity leave.

If your leave is more than 12 weeks you’ll qualify for equal treatment when you return to work.

Your 12 weeks will start again if you:

  • Start a new job at a different workplace
  • Take a break of more than 6 weeks between jobs at the same workplace
  • Stay at your current workplace but take a new role that’s ‘substantively different’ – A substantively different role is one that’s completely new, with different work.

This could be a combination of different:

  1. skills, or having to undertake new training
  2. pay rates
  3. location
  4. working hours

Pay Between Assignments Contract

Pay between assignments contract means you will be an employee of the agency and not an agency worker, you will be paid by the agency between jobs (assignments) if your job ends and you have a wait until starting a new job

It does also means that you will not be entitled to the same pay as other employees where you’re sent to work, even when you have worked for more than 12 weeks in the same role for the same employer.

A pay between assignments contract must say:

  • you have a contract of employment with the agency. This means that you are an employee of the agency
  • you are not employed on a fixed-term contract
  • the minimum pay rates you will receive
  • where you will be expected to work and if you’re expected to travel
  • your expected hours of work during any job you’re sent to do
  • the maximum hours you will be expected to work on a job
  • the minimum hours the agency will guarantee to pay you while on a job . This must be at least one hour
  • the type of work you will be expected to do.

You must be paid by the agency between assignments. This must be either at least 50 per cent of the pay you received on your last job or the national minimum wage rate for the hours you worked on the last job, whichever is the greater.

Sick leave and pay rights

In many ways, an agency worker has the same rights and responsibilities as anybody when they fall ill:

  • To not work at their assignment when they are too ill to work
  • To know who they must contact at the agency and the hiring organisation to about their absence, and that they must do this before a certain time wherever possible
  • To provide a reason for the absence and a likely return to work date
  • To receive Statutory Sick Pay if they qualify for it
  • Agency workers are not entitled to receive the same amount of sick pay as staff directly employed by their hiring organisation at any point.

Protection from discrimination

An agency worker has the same protections from discrimination as anybody else.

They must not be discriminated against because of a protected characteristic (such as their sex, race or religious belief). The agency, hiring organisation and/or their staff members could all be held liable.

 Agency Obligations

Your agency must give you written terms of employment. These should include:

  • whether you’re employed under a contract for services or a contract of employment
  • your notice period
  • your pay
  • your holiday entitlement

When you are offered a job, you should be given the following information:

  • your start date
  • how long the contract is likely to last
  • the type of work
  • about any expenses you may have to pay
  • the location
  • your hours
  • about any health and safety risks
  • about any experience, training or qualifications needed for the role

An agency cannot change your terms and conditions without telling you.

If you agree to any changes you must be given a new document with the full details of the changes and the date they changed.

An agency cannot give information about you to any third parties (including current employers or hirers) without your permission.


References and further information


Citizens Advice

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