Acas has published new guidelines about agency workers’ rights and responsibilities.
Data from a recent ONS Labour Force Survey suggested that the total number of agency workers in the UK currently stands at around 865,000 and this figure is expected to rise to one million by 2020.
The updated guidelines cover definitions on what an agency worker is and about their employment status as well as the pros and cons of working as an agency worker and rights.
It says the advantages of being an agency worker include working in lots of different places, trying different types of work, gaining work experience and learning new skills quickly and a greater chance of flexibility to work at times that suit personal needs.
The disadvantages of being an agency worker can include variations in the amount of hours available each week, little or no notice of when an assignment will end and periods where little or no work is available.
As with most employers, agencies will usually provide agency workers with their rights automatically, but Acas says the nature of agency work means there are special situations that make it useful for both the agency and the agency worker to have a general understanding of how these rights work in practice. Rights vary with employment status.
Many rights start immediately, such as discrimination protection and National Minimum Wage entitlements. Other rights depend on minimum qualifying periods and/or other factors, such as requesting flexible working or receiving maternity pay. Some rights, such as paid time off for ante-natal care and the right to receive the same amount of holiday leave and pay as staff directly employed by their hiring organisation, are specific to agency workers and begin either immediately or after working in the same role at the same hiring organisation for 12 weeks.