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Agency workers – what you need to know

This advice applies to Scotland

Who is an agency worker

You are an agency worker if you have a contract with an agency but you work temporarily for an employer. You might also be called a temp. When you’re working on a job, the employer tells you how you should do your work. You will be an agency worker if all the following things apply to you:

  • there is a contract between you and an agency
  • you are temporarily supplied to an employer by the agency
  • when you’re working on a job your work is controlled by the employer
  • you’re not self-employed.

Who is not an agency worker

You're not an agency worker if:

  • you find work through a temporary work agency but are actually self-employed
  • you work on a Managed Service Contract. These are contracts where the agency provides a specific service to a client, such as catering or cleaning, and someone from the agency tells you what to do on a day-to-day basis
  • you work for an in-house temporary staffing bank. This is where a company employs its temporary workers directly and they only work for that same business or service
  • you find direct employment with an employer yourself or through a recruitment agency
  • you're on secondment or loan from one organisation to another. This means your employer has loaned you to another employer directly rather than going through an agency

Pay between assignments contracts

You may be asked to sign a pay between assignments contract with your agency. This means you are an employee of the agency and your rights are slightly different to other agency workers.

If you’re on a pay between assignments contract, the agency will pay you if you end one job and have to wait before starting a new one. It 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 job for the same employer.  Your other employment rights are the same,

There are some things you need to think about when you sign a pay between  assignments contract. To find out what they are, go to: Pay between assignment contracts.

Employment rights for all agency workers

All agency workers, including those on pay between assignment contracts, have the following employment rights:

  • be paid the minimum wage
  • not to have unlawful deductions made from your wages
  • not to be discriminated against because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation
  • not to be discriminated against because you work part time
  • have a limit on the hours of your working week (with some exceptions)
  • have paid holidays
  • to be accompanied at a grievance or disciplinary hearing
  • not to be picked on or dismissed for whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is when you make it known that there are things going on at work that affect your employment rights or that are illegal. Reasons why you might blow the whistle include: reporting unsafe working conditions, being asked to work too many hours, not being paid the minimum wage or reporting criminal activity  
  • unpaid parental leave provided you meet the necessary conditions
  • the right to ask for flexible working when you return from parental leave if you meet the necessary conditions
  • statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory paternity pay if you meet the qualifying conditions  
  • to work in a safe workplace
  • to be able to take certain claims to an employment tribunal

What rights do agency workers not have

If you’re an agency worker you don’t have the right to:

  • claim unfair dismissal if you’re sacked without notice or good cause  
  • claim statutory redundancy pay
  • claim maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave
  • a written statement of main terms and conditions of employment

More information about Agency workers

Agency workers are now entitled to more rights. For more information about what they are, see:

Additional rights for agency workers

Pay between assignment contracts

Other useful information

Find out more about your employment rights and how to deal with problems you might come across at work:

Next steps

If you're not sure whether you are an agency worker, see Understanding your work status.

If you think you may not be getting the rights you're entitled to, you can get help from an experienced adviser. To find details of your local Citizens Advice, including those which offer advice by email, see nearest CAB.

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