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Using Recruitment Agency to Find Staff

It is important for employers to understand their responsibilities when using an agency to find staff, whether for temporary or permanent roles.

The information in this guide addresses issues around health and safety, providing reasonable access to shared facilities, and how transfer fees work.

Agencies and Employers’ Responsibilities

Some employers will use the services of an agency to help them take on full-time staff or part-time workers.

As a rule, these types of ’employment businesses’ (not the employers) will have the responsibility of paying the workers.

The employment business would also be responsible for ensuring certain workers’ rights (e.g. minimum wage and maximum weekly working hours).

Note: Agencies must use GLAA licensed workers if they are providing ‘gangmasters’ for certain industries, such as agriculture, food processing, horticultural, and shellfish-gathering.

The main responsibilities for businesses and self-employed people who use temporary workers, include:

  • Ensuring their access to the same shared facilities as other ‘permanent’ workers.
  • Keeping them informed about any relevant job vacancies that become available in the business.
  • Providing and managing an adequate level of workplace health and safety.

There is no legal requirement for any employer in the United Kingdom to provide work for an agency worker – unless they are have ‘employed status‘.

Note: Using a recruitment agency to replace employees or workers taking industrial action is a criminal offence.

Agency Workers Rights after 12 Weeks

Agency workers will get additional rights after completing twelve (12) weeks in the same job. As a result, they have entitlement to the same terms and conditions as any other employees who do the same work (or similar), including:

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has further guidance for hirers of agency workers and the recruitment sector to understand the new Agency Workers Regulations 2010.

Agency Transfer Fees

In most cases, recruitment agencies (employment businesses) will charge a transfer fee for their services, such as if:

  • The employer starts employing the worker ‘directly’.
  • Another agency supplies a worker to the employer after agreeing their initial contract.

Even so, the agency can only charge transfer fees if the employer takes on the worker in either of the following periods (whichever one ends later):

  • Fourteen (14) weeks of the start of the first assignment.
  • Eight (8) weeks of the end of an assignment.

Complaining about a Recruitment Agency

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) have further advice and information on how to complain about a recruitment agency.

Acas Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
UK phone call charges

Employer Responsibilities When Using a Recruitment Agency to Find Staff