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Can I quit my temping job before the end of the contract?
Can I quit my temping job before the end of the contract?
Legal issues

Can I quit my temping job before the end of the contract?

If you want to leave your temping assignment early, there are a few things that you’ll need to bear in mind.
Summary
  • Agency contracts
  • Time off
  • Holiday pay
  • Finally..

When a permanent employee wants to leave, they simply hand in their notice based on their employment contract. With temping, the rules are more difficult to gauge. While one temping assignment might only last a week or less, others might be ongoing positions lasting several months or more. So, if your temping assignment is not what you were expecting and you want to quit, how do you go about it? Read on to find out more..

Agency contracts

Before covering how to terminate a contract, it is important to explain how a temping or agency contract works. There are three parties, so the temporary work agency (TWA) will enter into terms with the agency worker (AW), and another separate contract with the end user organisation, known as the ‘hirer’. Although the agency worker is employed by the agency, their work is supervised by the hirer. Before the agency worker begins an assignment, the agency must provide them with a ‘written statement of employment particulars’, which must list certain key information including the name of the hirer, the workplace, the job description, pay, start date, holiday and sickness arrangements and training. This statement may also be referred to as a ‘contract’ or ‘terms’.

Can I terminate my contract?

Unlike some other European countries, it is relatively easy to terminate your agency contract in the UK. Neither you nor the hirer are legally required to give any notice. Do check your contract or statement for special clauses though, just in case a notice period is specified.

Bear in mind that leaving suddenly without notice could have a knock-on effect on your future career and prospects. Even if not required by law, try to give a reasonable notice period depending on how long you’ve been in your role. While one day might be enough for a one or two-week assignment, you may wish to give a week or more if you’ve been working with the company on a longer-term assignment. Don’t burn your bridges, as you might require a reference from your manager in the future. The same goes for the recruitment agency, as your actions may negatively impact their reputation. Consequently, they may be less likely to put you forward for future roles.

If you’re close to the end of your contract, consider “sticking it out” and staying until the end. This will show your consultant that you are both resilient and reliable, and will bode well for your future career.

Handy tip: Even if you quit your temp role, you should get paid for any hours you have already worked. Make sure that you submit a timesheet where possible, and try to give the agency some notice to avoid your final payment being delayed.

Time off

You may decide not to leave your role altogether, but simply take some time off. Most temps on short-term assignments don’t take holiday, instead preferring to take time off between contracts. If it’s a longer assignment, you may wish to claim some of the leave which you’ll be accruing from day one.

In the UK, temps must work for the same hirer for a 12-week qualifying period before they gain so called ‘equal treatment’ in comparison to an equivalent permanent employee. This means that they will have the same holiday entitlement as current employees working for the organisation in the same kind of role.

In addition to annual leave, temps may be able to take time off for other specific circumstances. If you have not yet completed 12 weeks with the same hirer, your qualifying period will either be paused, continue to accrue or be reset to zero, depending on the reason for the break.

The following reasons will pause the 12-week qualifying period:

  • Sickness
  • Annual leave
  • Shutdown, such as the closure of the office over Christmas
  • Jury service
  • Industrial action, such as a strike

Temporary workers can also take time off for the following, in which case the 12-week qualifying period will continue to run:

  • Pregnancy and maternity-related absence, such as ante-natal appointments
  • Maternity, paternity or adoption leave

If a temp moves to an assignment with a different hirer, they will have to start their 12-week qualifying period again.

Holiday pay

Remember that from the beginning of your role, you will qualify for statutory UK holiday pay of 28 days per annum, based on a five-day working week. If you are working fewer days your holiday will be granted on a pro rata basis. If you quit early, the agency should pay any leave that you haven’t taken at the end of your assignment, along with your final payment.

Finally..

In the UK, agency contracts are flexible and neither you nor the hiring company are obliged to give any notice to end the contract. Bear in mind however that if you leave on bad terms, the company may not agree to give you a reference for future roles. You may also damage your relationship with the recruitment agency, and your consultant might not put you forward for the best roles. It’s always a good idea to keep your consultant in the loop is you are thinking about leaving. Always make sure you read through your contract terms carefully, just in case they include a specific notice period.

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