Agency workers are entitled to many of the same employment and working conditions as permanent employees.
You have many legal rights but most agency workers are unable to claim unfair dismissal or redundancy in a Tribunal. This is because you are not considered as being an ‘employee’ in the legislation.
What are my entitlements as an agency worker?
Temporary agency workers are entitled to:
- Paid holiday
- Rest breaks and limits on working time
- No unlawful deductions from wages
- The National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage
- The right not to be discriminated against
- Protection under health and safety laws
- The same access to shared facilities and services at work as other comparable employees
Am I covered by the Regulations?
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (‘the Regulations’) came into force on 1 October 2011 and cover agency workers who are supplied to a hirer by an employment agency or through an intermediary. These workers are often referred to as ‘temps’.
When do my agency worker’s rights start?
As an agency worker, you are entitled to limited rights from day one of your employment and further enhanced rights after completing a qualifying period of 12 weeks.
What are my agency worker’s rights?
From day one, you will be entitled to:
- Equal access to the same facilities and amenities as permanent employees -this includes childcare, staff canteen and transport
- Information about potential vacancies at the hirer’s business
After 12 weeks, you are entitled to the same treatment as the hirer’s own employees in:
- Pay (including commission, performance bonuses, holiday pay, overtime, shift work)
- Duration of working time
- Night work
- Rest periods
- Rest breaks
- Annual leave
- Paid time off for antenatal appointments
The Regulations do not include entitlement to redundancy pay, notice pay, company sick pay, company pensions, and enhanced maternity/paternity/adoption pay. The majority of benefits in kind are also excluded (such as travel expenses).
You are entitled to ask the agency who hired you for the terms and conditions of someone directly recruited so you can check what you are allowed to receive. We can help you with this.
Is my qualifying period 12 continuous weeks?
No, there can be a break of up to 6 weeks in an assignment as long as you return to the same hirer to do the same or a significantly similar role (even if through a different agency). You could obtain the required 12 weeks’ through several assignments.
The Regulations state that holiday and sickness absence for up to 28 weeks, jury service and industrial action will pause the continuous period rather than reset it. Maternity, paternity, pregnancy and adoption leave will not pause the continuous period and so the qualifying period continues as if the agency worker were still attending work.
Who is liable if my rights are breached?
For a breach of the ‘day one’ entitlements, liability lies solely with the hirer.
If your ‘12 week rights’ are breached, liability will fall on either the hirer or the agency. As your agency is responsible for setting your terms and conditions, the liability will initially be with them. However, the hirer should provide the agency with details about the working and employment conditions of their permanent employees, so the agency may have a defence if they can show it took all reasonable steps to obtain correct and complete information from the hirer. If the hirer is at fault, the hirer could be solely liable.
We can help you identify what rights are being infringed, who is responsible and work for you to get things put right.
If there is a breach, when should I make a claim?
If you feel there has been a breach, you should start proceedings within 3 months (less one day). The Employment Tribunal can make a financial award which is mainly based on your loss of earnings.
What do I do now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do.
You need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will tell you from the outset what you are entitled to and go all out to get it for you.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees but because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know every trick in the book.
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