Are you considering taking a temporary assignment but wondering what you’ll be paid? Your salary will depend on what type of role you’re doing and your job description. Every time you’re paid, you’ll receive a payslip from your agency which will give you a breakdown of your salary. Don’t hesitate to ask your consultant to explain anything you’re unsure about. Your hourly rate and hours worked will be the main determiners of your salary, but there are often other factors to consider such as overtime and whether or not you’ll be taking your paid holiday.
Let’s start with the basics. Your agency, not your hiring company, is responsible for paying your salary and issuing you with a payslip. This is because the temporary work agency (TWA) is your official employer, rather than the company that you’re working with. The terms of your assignment are also issued by the agency. Therefore the agency must pay you for all of the hours that you work, even if they have not been paid by the hirer.
So now that we’ve established who will be paying you, how often will you get paid? There is no set payment frequency for temporary work assignments. However, due to the short-term nature of temporary assignments, most agencies tend to pay weekly or fortnightly. Many temporary workers prefer weekly or fortnightly pay as it can be easier to budget than monthly pay, although you’ll need to make sure you put enough money aside for your bigger outgoings such as a mortgage, rent or bills. Remember that your payments will vary depending on which assignment you’re on, and you won’t get paid for any days you’re not on assignment.
If you are low on funds, you can ask your agency for an advance. It will be down to the discretion of the agency to accept or decline your request. It’s probably only a good idea to ask for an advance if you’ve been working for the agency for a while and have built up a good relationship, rather than on your first day!
If you’re on a low income, remember that you can continue to claim Universal Credit while working.
Your hourly pay rate will be set by the hiring organisation, and must be set out in your ‘statement of employment particulars’ which the agency must provide to you before you start your assignment. This statement of terms should also tell you your overtime rate, if applicable, and how often you’ll be paid. Once you have your hourly rate, you can simply multiply this by the hours worked. Check whether this rate takes into account your paid holidays, and whether you’ll be paid for any rest breaks or lunch breaks.
By law, your hourly rate must be at least the minimum wage, which differs depending on your age. The minimum wage usually increases every April, at the start of the tax year. The most recent rates (for 2021/22) are:
Age 23 and over: £8.91 per hour
Age 21-22: £8.36 per hour
Age 18-20: £6.56 per hour
Under 18: £4.62 per hour
Here is an example calculation for a 26-year-old earning the minimum wage. They are on a one-month assignment with a logistics firm warehouse.
They work 40 hours a week, which works out at 168 hours over the whole assignment.
168 x £8.91 = £1496.88
If they don’t take any of their paid holiday accrued over that month, then they’ll also be entitled to around 2.33 additional days of pay (28 days per year).
18.64 hours x £8.91 = £166.08
So the total amount paid for the month-long assignment will be £1662.96.
In practice, they will probably be paid weekly or fortnightly and receive the holiday pay at the end of the assignment.
After 12 weeks with the same hirer, your pay rate must be on a par with that of a comparable permanent employee of the organisation, as should your overtime rate and paid holidays. If your permanent colleagues get bank holidays alongside their 28 days, you should too.
Remember that you should also have access to all workplace facilities, such as canteens, childcare and prayer rooms, from day one if your assignment.
If you were unemployed just before starting your temping assignment, then you may be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit (UC). You may still be entitled to claim these once you’re working, but you’ll need to declare your new job.
For JSA you must be working less than 16 hours per week in order to qualify. You need to let Job Centre Plus know of any work you’re doing as soon as you’re earning £5 a week or more. They will then calculate what you’re owed and your payments may be reduced or stopped.
Universal Credit is for both working and non-working people, so getting a job doesn’t necessarily mean that you no longer qualify. UC is a mean-tested benefit which is dependent on your income, so if you declare your new job and pay, your new UC payment will be calculated for you.
Note: Universal Credit has replaced many so-called ‘legacy’ benefits such as Income Support and Working Tax Credit. You cannot make a new claim for these legacy benefits.
Alongside the flexibility of being a temporary worker, you’ll also have many of the same protections as a permanent employee. You are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage, and in some sectors you may be able to earn more than a permanent employee, depending on your qualifications and experience. Moreover, if you don’t take your paid leave during the assignment you’ll receive a holiday payment at the end.
From day one you’ll have access to your workplace amenities, and after 12 weeks in the same job you’ll be entitled to the same salary as a permanent employee.
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