Using a recruitment agency to find staff

Employment agencies - employers' responsibilities and rights

    Employers using agencies to find temporary or permanent workers have certain responsibilities.

    Agencies that find staff for other businesses, but pay the staff themselves, are known as ‘employment businesses’.

    If you take on workers through an employment business, they’re responsible for ensuring the workers’ rights under working time and minimum wage rules.

    Agencies providing workers for agriculture, food processing, horticultural and shellfish-gathering industries are known as ‘gangmasters’ – if you use one, you need to make sure they’re licensed.

    Employers’ responsibilities

    As an employer, you’re responsible for:

    • agency workers’ health and safety
    • ensuring they have the same access to shared facilities as other workers
    • letting them know about relevant job vacancies in your business

    However, you can stop providing work to an agency worker, as long as they’re not employed by you.

    It’s a criminal offence to use an agency to replace employees or workers on strike.

    Additional rights after 12 weeks

    After 12 weeks in the same job, agency workers are entitled to the same terms and conditions as employees doing the same or similar work. This includes:

    • pay
    • working time, rest periods and breaks
    • night work
    • annual leave
    • time off for antenatal appointments for pregnant workers

    For more details, see the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) guidance on agency worker regulations.

    Transfer fees

    Agencies can charge a transfer fee if you employ a worker directly, or a worker is supplied to you through another agency after their initial contract.

    Agencies can only charge transfer fees if you take the worker on in either of the following periods, whichever ends later:

    • 14 weeks of the start of their first assignment with you
    • 8 weeks of the end of an assignment with you

    Complaining about an agency

    If you need advice or want to complain about a recruitment agency, contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline.

    Pay and Work Rights Helpline
    Enquiry form
    Complaint form
    Telephone: 0800 917 2368
    Textphone: 0800 121 4042
    Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
    Saturday, 9am to 1pm
    Find out about call charges