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Website URL : https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6494

Ways to resolve matters that may arise as an agency worker

Try to resolve issues informally

An agency worker should try to resolve problems informally with the best person that could help.

Many issues can be resolved quickly by having an informal conversation. Sorting things out at an early stage can stop problems from getting worse, and remove the need to make a formal complaint.

Check your contract to see who you need to talk to about:

  • falling sick
  • taking holiday.

Talk to your manager at the hiring organisation about:

  • guidance or help with a task
  • a customer complaint
  • being bullied by colleagues.

Talk to the agency about:

  • not being paid the right amount
  • changing the hours worked
  • changing the assignment
  • requesting holidays
  • anything else.

Making a formal complaint

If raising the matter informally does not resolve the problem, an agency worker could make a formal complaint. Only complaints raised by employees must be considered by an agency but it is still good practice for an agency to consider complaints from workers too.

A complaint should:

  • Be put in writing
  • Set out what the problem or concern is
  • Be sent to the agency

An agency should have rules and procedures in place for handling formal complaints that include:

  • Holding a meeting to establish the facts
  • Allowing the agency worker to be accompanied by a work companion or trade union representative at a meeting.
  • Trying to find a way to resolve the problem

For more information, go to Raising an issue at work

If the agency is a member of a trade body, an agency worker could also consider making a formal complaint about the agency to their trade body.

Going through a disciplinary procedure

Poor conduct or poor performance will often lead to the agency no longer offering the agency worker assignments.

On some occasions, if the agency worker is an employee, the agency may need to arrange a disciplinary hearing into the conduct or performance. An agency should have rules and procedures in place for dealing with potential disciplinary matters. For more information, go to Discipline and grievance hearing.

Taking matters further

Reporting the matter: An agency worker can contact the EAS (Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate) if they:

  • are owed pay and the agency is refusing to make payment
  • have been charged a fee by the agency to find them work
  • have been pressured into paying for additional services and uniforms or charged without their agreement
  • have been charged a fee to become directly employed by a hiring organisation
  • are being paid (and charged fees) by an umbrella company rather than the agency and the agency worker never agreed to this.

The EAS can contact the agency about the matter and in the most serious cases send inspectors in to investigate allegations and pursue prosecutions. For further details, contact the Acas Helpline or complete a complaint form at GOV.UK - Pay and work rights complaints.

Where an agency worker has not received the NMW or NLW (National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage), they can make a tribunal claim (see below) or could contact HMRC who have a NMW enforcement team. For further details, contact the Acas helpline.

An agency and/or an agency worker may also report issues to SAFERjobs if they suspect fraud, malpractice or breach of legislation. SAFERjobs will then pass the information on to the most appropriate organisation to take it further. For further details, go to www.safer-jobs.com.

Taking legal action: If an agency worker believes they have not received or been refused a right they are entitled to, they could raise an employment tribunal claim. This would involve starting a legal process, which could end in attending an employment tribunal or going through the court system.

To begin the employment tribunal process, an agency worker must notify Acas of their intention to lodge an employment tribunal claim. Acas then offers Early Conciliation, which provides those involved the chance to settle the dispute without it going to tribunal.

For most tribunal claims there is a three-month time limit for an agency worker to submit a claim. However this time limit does pause if Early Conciliation is taking place. For more information, go to Employment Tribunals.