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Your Rights as an Agency Worker

There might be some differences in your rights when being employed by an agency compared to directly working for a business


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment


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You’re an agency worker if you have an agreement with an employment agency to work for another person. The agency will contact you when a temporary job comes up in a company and you’ll carry out the work for a set amount of time. Companies contact the agency rather than you directly. As an agency worker you don’t have all the same rights and protections as other workers, but you do have some and it’s important to be aware of them.

When you go to work for a company as an agency worker, you must get equal treatment to the regular employees in your new workplace. This applies from your very first day until your temporary job comes to an end. Your rights are the same as everybody else when it comes to the following:

  • Your pay and related rights, including overtime and Sunday pay
  • Working time, time off, night work, annual leave and public holidays
  • Rights around working while pregnant or nursing
  • Rights while working under the age of 18
  • Protection from discrimination or victimisation due to your sex, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation or beliefs
  • Access to facilities available to permanent staff, including parking, childcare and the canteen.

Temporary agency workers must also be told about any opportunities for permanent work with the company if and when they come up.

The agency and the company: who is responsible for my rights?

When you’re an agency worker doing a temporary job it can sometimes be a little confusing who your actual employer is. In terms of your worker’s rights, your employer is usually the person who is actually paying your wages. This can be the agency or the client company you do temporary work for. They are responsible for making your tax and PRSI contributions out of your wages. Always ensure you find out who is actually in charge of paying you before you start a job so you know who to talk to if things go wrong.

Some exceptions to this general rule are your rights to protection from unfair dismissal (firing without a good reason) and good standards of health and safety: both are always the responsibility of the company where you’re doing the temporary work, and not of the agency.

How to make a complaint

If you feel your workplace rights as an agency worker are being abused, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission here. If you aren’t sure or just need more information on what your rights are as an agency worker, the WRC also offers an information service you can contact.

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Published September 12th, 2016
Last updated November 28th, 2016
Tags rights work rights employee rights
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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