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As a temporary worker, can I claim paid holiday?
As a temporary worker, can I claim paid holiday?
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As a temporary worker, can I claim paid holiday?

Yes, in fact temporary workers are entitled to paid leave. Read on to find out more.
Summary

In the UK, paid leave or ‘holiday entitlement’ is not restricted to permanent employees. All workers have a right to leave, including agency workers and workers on zero-hours contracts. Statutory leave is 28 days per year for workers working five days a week. If you work shorter hours, holiday is calculated on a pro rata basis depending on how many days or hours you work. This means that you’ll begin accruing leave from your first day at work. Note that after 12 weeks with the same hirer, you should qualify for the same holiday entitlement as the hirer’s permanent employees in a comparable role.

How to claim leave as a temporary worker

All employees and workers, including agency workers, are entitled to statutory holiday of 28 days per year based on a five-day week, or the number of days per week you work X 5.6. So if you work three days, you’d be entitled to 16.8 days off per year (3X5.6). This applies from the minute you begin your first assignment. If you want to take a holiday, you’ll first need to let your agency know, but the hirer must also approve it. Don’t worry, if you haven’t taken your holiday by the end of your assignment, you’ll be paid for it instead.

For longer-term assignments, after 12 weeks you’ll get the same holiday entitlement as other ‘comparable employees’ at your workplace. A comparable worker is defined as someone who is performing a broadly similar role to the agency worker, or who works on the same site as (or an equivalent site to) the agency worker. See the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 for further information.

The hirer is not obliged to give you bank holidays as additional leave. This is left to their own discretion and will depend on the business sector and needs.

Handy tip: Once the agency worker has completed their 12-week ‘qualifying period’ with the hirer, they are entitled to the same holiday and salary as a comparable permanent employee, including any bank holiday entitlement. They should also be entitled to receive any individual performance-related bonuses.

Should I take my holidays while on an assignment?

As stated above, temporary workers are entitled to the same paid leave as other workers and employees, which is 28 days per year for people who work a traditional five-day week (or the pro rata equivalent based on the days or hours worked). Therefore you can of course take holidays. If you want to request leave, you should send an initial request to your agency consultant, as well as letting your workplace line manager know.

Generally speaking, many temporary workers prefer not to take their leave while on assignment. This is especially the case for shorter assignments, as it might not be worth requesting the leave when you can take time off between assignments. If you are on a longer-term assignment, consider the impact that your leave might have on the hirer’s day-to-day activities, and whether it might affect your chances of landing a permanent contract. On the other hand, wellbeing is important and it’s crucial that you have some time to switch off from work. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll either be entitled to take your accrued leave or receive payment for it.

Leave for exceptional circumstances

Unlike employees, temporary workers are not automatically entitled to take time off for family bereavements, births or deaths, with the exception of maternity, paternity and adoption leave. If you need to ask for time off, send your request to your agency consultant and discuss it with them. It is likely that any time granted would be unpaid. Ultimately, it is up to you whether you want to take unpaid leave but this may involve quitting the assignment you’re working on. As long as you’re honest with your agency and hirer, taking family leave shouldn’t however affect any future assignments.

Overtime

Any overtime you do as a temp will be paid. Initially, this will be at hourly rate specified on your ‘written statement of employment particulars’. After 12 weeks in the same role, you’ll be entitled to the same overtime rate as any existing employees. If you’re not sure what your overtime rate should be, check with your agency consultant.

What happens to my holidays if the contract is terminated?

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 for special clauses though, just in case a notice period is specified.

As a temporary worker, you should always get paid for all hours worked, as well as any holiday that you have accrued and haven’t taken. For workers on a five-day week, this should work out at about 2.3 extra days of pay per month worked. You should automatically receive your holiday payment with your final wage payment, or at around the same time. You’ll start accruing holiday again when you start a new assignment.

Finally..

As a temporary worker, it’s crucial to understand your holiday rights, and how they differ depending on how long you have been in your role for. From your first day at work, you’ll be entitled to the UK’s statutory annual leave allowance of 28 days based on a full-time role, which works out at around 2.3 days per month. After 12 weeks, you’ll have the same holidays as a comparable employee in the organisation you’re working for. In practice though it might not be practical to take your holidays while you’re on your assignment, as you’ll probably be plugging a staffing gap and therefore be needed at work. For this reason, if you don’t take your holiday you’ll always be entitled to pay in lieu of leave at the end of your assignment, whether you quit or work to the end of your contract.

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