Agency and temporary staff

09 July 2019

If your business is looking to hire staff for a short period, what are the laws you need to keep in mind?

For the purposes of this article, temporary workers will refer to individuals that have a contractual relationship with a temporary work agency and they go an assignment with an end-user.

Individuals in these circumstances are agency workers (that’s the term) and end-users regularly utilise these as a cost-effective way to plug gaps in their workforce without needing to hire a permanent employee.

But remember, if you need any help with this issue straight away you can use our 24/7 HR outsourcing and services.

Do temporary workers have rights?

As well as having day one statutory rights, such as discrimination protection and minimum wage entitlement, there are additional rights that come into force when temporary workers have been assigned to the same end-user for a 12-week qualifying period. 

A temporary worker will accrue a week towards the qualifying period for every week they complete any work in their role.

However, several circumstances, including annual leave and sickness absence up to a maximum of 28 weeks, will cause the 12-week qualifying period to pause. 

Temporary workers can claim access any to any facilities or amenities offered by the end-user, such as canteens or childcare facilities, from day one of their assignment.

Failing to enable this will leave end-users open to employment tribunal claims for less favourable treatment.

You can learn more about their rights at Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).

How much notice does a temporary worker need to give?

Due to the flexibility afforded to temporary workers, they don’t need to provide any notice to end an assignment early. They need to inform their agency if they want an assignment to end.

However, in these circumstances an agency will typically be able to provide a replacement agency worker for the end-user

Paying your short-term staff

When it comes to the wages of a temporary agency worker, you don’t pay the individual directly.

Instead, the end-user will pay the temporary work agency a pre-determined sum. The temporary workers will receive their pay from the agency.

End-users may favour this, as it'll allow them to potentially save money by paying temporary workers less for a period.

These individuals will need to receive the same pay as permanent employees working in the same role following the 12-week qualifying period.  

The agency will have to settle any maternity pay for temporary agency workers.

Time off requests

Temporary agency workers’ holiday rights include a statutory entitlement to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday each year.

However, once they reach the 12-week qualifying period they have the right to receive the same amount of holiday leave and pay as permanent staff. That includes any enhanced leave that is on offer.

However, there are slightly different rules when it comes to temporary worker sick pay, as end-users aren’t required to provide agency workers with occupational sick pay after 12 weeks’ continuous service.

And that’s even if this is something they offer permanent staff.

Do temporary workers get a pension?

Although there’s no need for an end-user to include temporary workers in their pension schemes, a temporary work agency must auto-enroll its agency staff into a pension scheme within three months of the start of the contract.

Finally, there’s no requirement for either the end-user or temporary worker to provide any notice to end an assignment early.

That’s unless this is clearly specified in any agreements involving either party.

Need our help?

Get in touch for assistance with any of your employee requirements: 0800 028 2420.

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