I am a business
Home (UK) Working conditions
Agency work – what’s involved?
Agency work – what’s involved?
Working conditions

Agency work – what’s involved?

We explain everything you need to know about the world of temporary work.
Summary

Are you looking for a job and considering using a temporary employment agency? Then you’re on the right track. A temporary role is basically a fixed-term position – but with an agency. In the UK, the temporary recruitment market is buoyant, as more and more organisations are choosing to hire an agency worker to fulfil their short-term staffing needs. Regardless of the role you’re seeking or your experience level, you’re almost certain to find a job that meets your expectations. We’ve therefore written this article to explain the process of working for a temporary work agency, from registering and finding a job to signing your contract of employment. It focuses on an increasingly popular way of working.

Registering with a temporary staffing agency

The first essential step consists of registering online with a recruitment agency. The process can, of course, vary depending on the temp agency involved, but generally speaking, this is how it goes:

1. Registration

As with any registration process, you’ll need to provide certain information. Some of it will relate to you personally, such as your first and last name, your date of birth, your nationality, contact details (postal address, telephone number, email) and so on. In order for your employment contract to be drawn up later on, you’ll need to enter your National Insurance number and – if you want to be paid – your bank account details. The rest of the information is professional in nature. It relates to your experience, your training and skills, and your qualifications, as well as the position you’re seeking, the geographical area for your job search, the salary you’re looking for and your availability (a long or short-term assignment and a full-time or part-time role).

2. Meeting the team

The second step involves meeting the recruitment consultant who'll be responsible for your records. The meeting will be held either by telephone or directly on site if the agency has physical branches. Your consultant will support you and keep track of your case throughout your job search. You’ll also be able to contact him or her about any issues both during the course of your assignment and once it has been completed.

3. Your job search

Generally, temporary staffing agencies tend to use the same methods when matching your profile with a potential assignment. They simply compare your candidate profile with vacancies available at their partner organisations to see if one or more of those jobs matches your skills and experience.

4. Applying for a temp job

Once you find a vacancy that you like and that meets all your expectations in terms of salary, duties and responsibilities, duration and so forth, all you have to do is apply for it. Your agency will then pass on your application to the company and if the company is happy with your profile, you’ll get the job!

Working as a temp

The various contracts

Temping agency assignments work in a specific way that’s different from a standard fixed-term contract in that they involve not two but three parties: you (the temp or agency worker), the client organisation and the agency. The client – the party requiring the additional staff– and the temp agency sign a labour supply agreement. This agreement authorises the agency to perform a search for candidates in respect of one or more assignments offered by the company. It also includes all of the necessary administrative details such as the salary level, duration of the assignment, type of position and so on.

Temporary workers sign an assignment contract with the temp agency. The contract contains the same administrative information as the agreement between the agency and the client. In addition, this employment contract makes the agency your official employer. It will consequently fall to the agency to issue your payslip, pay your salary, send you for any medical examinations required, and so forth. It also shares responsibility with the client organisation for your health and safety in the workplace. This might involve taking care of any safety training and provision of PPE (personal protective equipment) needed for your assignment.

Temporary assignments

In the UK, temporary contracts are governed by the Agency Workers Regulations which came into force in 2011. They are used widely by employers, primarily to replace an absent staff member or during periods of higher or seasonal demand. They are also seen as a useful way of ascertaining whether a particular person is a good fit for the organisation, which can be of benefit both to the employer and the temporary worker.

The assignment contract may or may not have a specific duration depending on the purpose of the role. However, temporary employees should not be kept on a fixed-term contract for more than four years, unless their employee has a good reason for keeping the temporary role in place.

Furthermore, temporary staff are entitled to the same basic rights as permanent employees within the organisation. From the beginning of the assignment, they are entitled to access the same shared facilities and services as permanent employees including the canteens, vending machines, childcare services, car parks and access to internal permanent job vacancies. After 12 weeks, temporary staff are entitled to many of the same rights as a permanent staff member including maternity and paternity pay and paid sick leave. They are also entitled to be paid the same as a permanent employee doing the same job. The 12-week accrual period may be paused for breaks such as sickness, jury service or parental leave, and resume when the temporary employee returns to the role. Many people opt for agency work because of its flexibility, and because it may be paid at a higher hourly rate than the equivalent permanent roles in certain sectors, particularly technical and specialist sectors. All agency workers must be paid a minimum of the National Minimum Wage.

After completing their 12-week qualifying period, temporary workers are entitled to paid leave of 5.6 weeks per year. Any accrued leave which has not been taken will be paid at the end of the assignment.

Useful information: Acas – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – is an independent public body, funded by the UK government, that provides free and impartial advice to employers and employees on employment rights, best practice and policies, and resolving workplace conflict. For information on agency workers’ rights, visit https://www.acas.org.uk/agency-workers/understanding-your-employment-rights-as-an-agency-worker."

Traditional staffing agencies versus online recruitment services?

Digitisation is affecting every organisation including, of course, temporary staffing agencies. For some years now, fully online recruitment services have been appearing in the temporary employment market and competing with traditional agencies.

The service they provide offers a number of advantages for both businesses and temporary workers. They save you the need to travel for your job search and enable you to view job vacancies from any location. As the registration and hiring process takes place entirely online, not only can you avoid having to print off reams of documents but can do everything on a PC.

Finally..

In the UK, more and more temporary staff are being hired because of the many advantages offered by agency work for both companies and employees. Its popularity has helped to change the image of the “temporary worker”. In fact, it's now possible to find a temporary job at virtually any level, whether you’re seeking a manual job, an office-based role or even an executive position. So now you know how it all works, why not take the plunge and register?

I find a job
GTCU & GTCSCookie Management PolicyPrivacy Policy for Temporary WorkersPrivacy Policy for CustomersMedia