Doing agency work in London is a good way to find employment, but it is not the same as working full time for an employer. Your rights are slightly different when working in this manner. There are some important things that you need to understand about your rights, and what is actually classed as being an agency worker.
Below is our simple guide to everything you need to know about being an agency worker (which is also sometimes referred to as ‘a temp’).
1. Who is an agency worker?
An agency worker is a person whose contract is with the agency themselves, but actually works temporarily for various employers. To qualify, the following will apply:
- Your contract is between you and an agency (such as Adecco, Office Angels or Blue Arrow).
- You are temporarily supplied to various employers by the agency.
- The work you do is controlled by the employer you’re contracted to.
- You are not self-employed.
2. Agency workers are NOT
- Self employed – even if you find your work through an agency.
- You have been seconded to another department or company through the company you already work for.
- You work on a Managed Service Contract (for example, cleaning or catering).
- You are working on a ‘bank’ contract for a specific employer.
- You take a contract known as a ‘pay between assignments contract’.
3. Your rights as an agency worker
Agency workers have rights. These include the following:
- To work in a safe environment
- To be paid the minimum wage – currently between £3.87 per hour for those under the age of 18, to £6.70 for those aged 21 and over (as of November 2015).
- To statutory sick pay, maternity pay, adoption pay and paternity pay (as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.
- To have paid holidays.
- Not to be picked on or dismissed for whistleblowing.
- Not to be discriminated against for working part time.
- To have a limit on your working hours per week.
- To be able to take certain claims to an employment tribunal.
There are also other rights. The full list can be found at the official Government website page for agency workers.
4. Rights you DO NOT have as an agency worker
- You cannot claim statutory redundancy pay
- You cannot claim parental, maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
- You cannot claim unfair dismissal if you’re sacked without notice or good cause.
- You do not have the right to a written statement of main terms and conditions of employment.
5. How to pay taxes and National Insurance
For those who are working and earn over a certain amount and are under State Pension age, it’s necessary to pay tax and National insurance. Your agency will be responsible for deducting the correct amounts from your wages, and the amount you receive will be after this – it is known as ‘net’ pay. The amount before these deductions are subtracted is known as ‘gross’ pay.
6. Your agency cannot charge you fees
Your agency must not charge fees for finding you work (or attempting to find you work. However, there are some services an agency can charge for. These include:
- Providing and cleaning uniforms.
- Providing transport to and from your place of work.
- Providing training.
- Providing living accommodation.
- CV writing.
However, the agency must not insist that you purchase such services in return for them providing you work. Such charges can only be made (and should be agreed prior to you starting a new contract with an employer) once work has been found for you.
7. The agency cannot make unlawful deductions from your wages
There are only certain legal deductions that an agency can subtract from your wages. These include the following:
- Tax and National Insurance
- Any deduction that has been agreed by you (the employee) in writing before it is taken.
- Deductions if you’ve genuinely been overpaid.
- Any deduction that’s subject to a court order or from an employment tribunal – such as an attachment of earnings order.
Shop workers have additional special rules about deductions:
- Deductions can be made for cash shortages or missing stock.
- Any deductions must be made within 12 months of the discovery, and details must be given in writing to the employee on pay day.
- The deduction can be no more than 10% of the total amount of gross day on any single payday.
8. Your agency must provide you with the following written terms of employment
- Whether you’re employed under a contract for services or a contract of employment.
- Any notice period for either party.
- Your amount of pay.
- Your holiday entitlement.
On being offered a job, you should also be informed of:
- The date you are to commence work.
- The approximate length of the contract.
- The type of work you’ll be undertaking.
- The location of your employment.
- The hours you will be working.
- Any health and safety risks.
- Any expenses that you might have to pay.
- Any training, qualifications and experience that is necessary for you to successfully undertake the offered role.
Once both parties agree to the terms and conditions, the agency cannot change these without your knowledge. If any changes are agreed upon, your agency must provide you with a new document explaining the changes in full and the date on which they changed.
9. Entertainment and modeling agencies
There are some specific points that apply for entertainment and modeling agencies.
- They cannot charge you any fees if they don’t find you work.
- They can take a commission from your earnings if they do find you work.
- They can legitimately charge a fee to publish your details (either online or in a printed publication). However, you do not have to pay this straight away, and they must tell you in writing if such a fee is to be charged.
Once you agree to this, you cannot be charged for a period of 30 days, and you have the right to withdraw at any time during this period. The agency must show you exactly what is to be published before it is done.
Once the 30 days is up, you have an additional 7 days to decide if you want the information to remain, or if you want it removed. If you are happy, you must pay the fee after this 7 days.