Rights as a part-time or agency worker

Your employment rights as an agency worker

Rights to equal treatment will apply to you if you are a ‘worker’ or an ’employee’, from the first day of your employment. It makes no difference if you are employed on a permanent contract or a fixed-term contract, you still have rights. As an agency worker, it’s important to know your rights and the rules so that the business treats you correctly.

What is an agency worker?

An agency worker find employment through and works via an agency. 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 several advantages to being an agency worker, you can:

  • Get experience in an area you want to work in
  • Use it as a way of entering or re-entering the job market
  • Use it to work more flexibly to help balance other responsibilities
  • Move jobs easily and with little or no notice

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 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:

  1. a written statement that describes the job, your working hours and how much holiday or sick pay you’ll get 
  2. 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 as an agency worker

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. 

If you have been treated less favourably

If you believe your employer has treated, you less favourably than a full-time worker then you have the right to receive a written statement of reasons for the treatment. You should put your request in writing and your employer must return the written statement within 21 days.

If you are not satisfied that this treatment is objectively justified, then you can make a complaint to an Industrial Tribunal against your employer. If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice, and support from them. 

Our team of employment law experts can help you navigate these complicated issues. Please give us a call in our Lisburn and Lurgan offices

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