Written by: Shani Fowler
Many people sign up to be a temp or agency worker for various reasons. Quite often the appeal is the flexibility it can offer especially trying to work round children. Although this can be a great way of working what rights and benefits do agency and temp workers have?
What indicates you are an agency or temp worker?
As an agency worker you work day to day with an employer but your contract exists with an employment agency. However, you are told what to do by the employer and not the agency. You are not self-employed as an agency or temp worker.
What rights to agency and temp workers have?
You still have rights as an employee, despite not being directly employed by the people you are working for and these are the responsibility of either the agency who employ you or their client company. You can expect to receive:-
-parental leave (conditional and unpaid)
-use of workplace staff facilities
-same basic pay and working conditions as permanent staff (for comparable work) after 12 weeks
-minimum wage pay
-paid time off for antenatal appointments after 12 weeks
Pay between assignment contracts
You may have a “pay between assignments” contract. This is where your agency pays you even if there is a gap between jobs. Your rights differ to that of a normal agency or temp worker. You waive the right to the same pay and holiday as the staff where you are sent to work (applicable after 12 weeks).
The agency must pay you either minimum wage or 50% of the highest weekly rate you received on your last job (whichever highest) if you are “between” jobs for more than a week.Also your agency must look for jobs and offer them to you. Unless you resign the agency cannot terminate your contract unless they pay you four weeks’ pay.
The down side
Although on the face of it, these contract seem secure there can be problems encountered with them. For example the minimum you must work is one hour per week and therefore the agency may invent a short term job or ask you to work in the agency for an hour. You might work different hours to those specified in your agency contract in which case you may not then be a “pay-between-assignments” worker in the eyes of the law.
The agency is breaking the law if it manipulates the rules in this manner, so if you think this is happening and you have a ‘pay between assignments contract’, you may be able to seek compensation at a tribunal. You don’t have to agree to a ‘pay between assignments contract’ but they agency may not want you to work for them if you don’t.
The agency must pay your tax, national insurance and any student loans you owe and furnish you with a payslip to show how this money has been worked out. They must also supply you with a P45 as and when you cease working for them so you can take it to your next job. They must also provide a P60 if you are still with them at the end of the tax year.
Cash in hand
Receiving cash in hand without taking off tax and national insurance, means your employer is breaking the law. Some employers do this to reduce wage bills but if you work under these terms you won’t be eligible for the usual rights such as sickness pay and job seekers allowance. You could also get a criminal record, be liable for fines and may have to pay the tax and national insurance yourself.
Having more than one job can be a brilliant way of earning extra money but ensure that you are earning under the correct tax codes so that your tax situation doesn’t become complicated. The HMRC have a website with lots of useful information and you can also contact them directly.
All in all agency and temp work can be useful and work to your advantage as long as you know your rights and stick to the right side of the law. It’s an option many workers are taking and as long as you are clued up and happy with the terms, there is no real reason not to.