Legal protection for agency workers

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Legal protection for agency workers

New legislation has come into force to protect and strengthen the rights of agency workers.

Agency workers are now entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as if they had been hired directly by a company under a contract of employment.  This means agency workers are entitled to be treated the same as employees in terms of:

  • Pay – this includes basic pay, shift premium, overtime, unsocial hours worked and Sunday work;
  • Annual leave
  • Public holidays
  • Rest breaks
  • Night work

The right to equal pay has effect from 5 December 2011 – therefore agency workers are entitled to this right back-dated to 5 December last year.

Agency workers are also entitled to equal access to facilities such as canteen, car parking, child care, transport, workplace gyms, shower rooms, vending machines and common rooms.

Agency workers are also entitled to the same access to information on job vacancies as permanent employees.

A company who engages agency workers (referred to as the “Hirer” in the legislation) must provide the employment agency with the information to show that they are complying with the legislation.

If you are an employer who uses the services of an agency, you should review your contractual documentation with the agency to ensure compliance.  You should also carry out an immediate workforce audit to determine if anybody in your workforce is affected by the new legislation.  You should also appoint a person in your organisation to take responsibility for liaising with the agency.

The Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 was signed into law on 16 May 2012.

If you have any questions in relation to Employment Law, please contact Helen Coughlan at