Agency workers can benefit from many employment rights, but they will have different working rights from full or part-time employees. As an agency worker, it’s important to know your rights and the rules so that businesses correctly treat you.
What is an agency worker?
An agency worker works through an agency which finds them jobs. As an agency worker, you will either have a contract for services or a contract of employment with the agency that finds you work meaning the firm that hires you pays a fee to the agency, and the agency pays your wages. This work is often called ‘temporary work’, ‘temping’ or ‘agency work’.
What are the advantages of Agency work?
There are many advantages to being an agency worker in Northern Ireland, you can:
- use it as a stepping stone to the job you want
- use it as a way of entering or re-entering the job market
- use it to work more flexibly to help balance domestic responsibilities
- move jobs easily and with little or no notice
- try out different kinds of work
The benefit to the hiring company is that it has the flexibility to finish temporary work without being liable for unfair dismissal or redundancy pay.
What are your rights as agency staff?
Although you’re not directly employed by the people you work for, you still have rights as an employee.
These are either the responsibility of the agency employing you or the client company where you’re deployed.
Your agency worker rights entitle you to:
- paid holiday days
- minimum wage pay
- work a limited number of hours per week
- be safe within the workplace
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- parental leave (unpaid), with conditions
- no discrimination on basis of age, race, sexuality, disability
- be told about vacancies where you’re working – unless they’re only available to staff who are at risk of redundancy
- use of the workplace facilities for staff, such as the canteen, creche or nursery
- after 12 weeks – paid time off for antenatal appointments if pregnant
- after 12 weeks – same basic pay and working conditions as permanent staff if any are doing comparable work to you.
What Information should you receive about the job?
In Northern Ireland, if you joined your agency on or after 6 April 2020, they must give you:
- a written statement that describes the job, your working hours and how much holiday or sick pay you’ll get
- a ‘key information document’ that explains how your pay is calculated
The agency should give you the key information document before you start working with them. They should also give you a new document if the information changes.
Protecting your rights
If you must go to a grievance or disciplinary hearing, you have the same rights as other workers to have a colleague, or a trade union representative come with you. If you feel your rights have been breached, you can take the case to an employment tribunal.
If you have been in the same job for 12 weeks or more, you are entitled to the same rights as people that were hired directly by the organisation where you do your work.