Agency workers and their employment rights

What do agency workers do?

An agency worker “signs up” with an employment business to work for one or more of their
clients (or hirers). Therefore, agency workers could, more accurately, be described as
employment business workers. They often undertake specific pieces of work or are engaged for
a fixed period; their work is therefore often temporary. However, agency workers can be
engaged on an open-ended basis and engagements do not have to be short-term. They may
last for some time, depending on the needs of the client to which they have been assigned by
the employment business.


The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR). In simple terms, the AWR affords an agency
worker with two sets of rights, Day One Rights and Week Twelve Rights:

  • Day One Rights – agency workers must be allowed access to the End User’s collective
    facilities and amenities including:
    • The canteen or food and drinks machines.
    • Childcare services, for example a creche.
    • Car parking or transport services.
  • Week Twelve Rights – after twelve weeks at the same End User, an agency worker will
    be entitled to “the same basic working and employment conditions” as they would have
    been entitled to for doing the same job, had they been recruited by the End User directly. This means they are entitled to comparable rights as direct recruits in respect of: pay,
    duration of working, night work, rest periods, rest breaks, and annual leave.
  • In terms of pay, the right to equal treatment to pay includes:
    • basic pay
    • holiday pay that’s in addition to the legal minimum
    • individual performance-related bonuses
    • commission
    • overtime pay
    • allowances for working shifts or unsociable hours
  • The right to equal treatment to pay does not include:
    • bonuses linked solely to company performance or to reward long-term loyalty
    • expenses
    • enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption pay and shared parental pay
    • company pension schemes
    • redundancy that’s more than statutory
    • sick pay that’s more than statutory sick pay
    • guarantee payments
    • season ticket loans
    • paid time off for trade union duties
  • The above position on when week twelve rights are afforded is simplified, and there are scenarios where several separate assignments can be joined to afford these entitlements. It is
    however important to note that a week still counts towards the 12-week qualifying period if the
    agency worker does not work because of:
    • pregnancy
    • childbirth
    • maternity leave which is taken during pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after the birth
    • paternity leave
    • adoption leave
    • shared parental leave