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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1873

Agency workers

Key points

  • Agency workers are entitled to certain employment rights such as national minimum wage.
  • Employers should be aware of the Agency Worker Regulations.
  • Agency staff are classed as workers rather than employees.
  • The Agency workers directive gives equal treatment to those who have been with the hirer for 12 continuous weeks in a given job.
  • To establish the rights in the regulations the agency worker needs to be able to identify a comparator.

Agency workers are classed as "workers" rather than as employees. All workers, including agency workers, are entitled to certain rights which include:

  • paid annual leave
  • rest breaks and limits on working time
  • the National Minimum Wage
  • no unlawful deductions from wages
  • discrimination rights under the Equality Act 2010
  • health and safety at work.

The Agency workers regulations give agency workers the entitlement to the same or no less favourable treatment as comparable employees with respect to basic employment and working conditions, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in a particular job.

The regulations cover agency workers supplied by a temporary work agency to a hirer. This includes most agency workers that people refer to as 'temps'. The regulations also cover agency workers supplied via intermediaries. To establish the rights in these regulations, the agency worker needs to be able to identify a comparator.

The regulations don't cover the genuinely self-employed, individuals working through their own limited liability company, or individuals working on managed service contracts.

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