• International Workplace
  • 17 April 2018

New guidance on agency workers published

ACAS has published a new guide for agency workers and employers after its helpline revealed that many are unaware of the legal rights of either party.

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.

As the use of agency workers becomes ever more popular it is important that agency workers and employers using agency staff understand their rights and responsibilities to promote a good and productive working environment.

The new agency workers guidance aims to help all those involved in this working relationship to understand the rights and responsibilities of agency workers or those using the services of an employment agency.

ACAS Senior Guidance Adviser, Tom Neil, said:

"It is clear that there are agency workers who are unsure about their rights at work. This can leave them unsure about their entitlements on pay, working hours and time off for holidays and sickness.

"Some agency workers complain about their pay being delayed because the employer has not paid the agency. Agencies should know that workers have a right to receive their wages whether or not the employer has paid the agency.

"Our new advice is an easy to understand guide that's designed to explain how the law applies to agency workers now. Our unique insight as conciliators in workplace disputes across the UK has informed the guidance on issues such as holiday pay, pensions, parental rights and joining a trade union."

The new ACAS guidance includes the following key points for agency workers/employers to consider:

  • Agency workers are entitled to be paid even if the agency has not received a payment from the employer.
  • Understanding employment status is essential to understanding rights. Whether you are a worker, an employee or self-employed, affects your pay, holidays and other entitlements.
  • Remember that after a 12-week qualifying period, in most situations, an agency worker must receive the same pay as those directly employed.

The Government is currently running a consultation on the recommendations made about agency workers from Matthew Taylor's Review of modern employment practices. The consultation closes on 9 May 2018. For more information, please see