Covid-19 – the impact on temps and agency employees
16 April 2020 by Bushra Elzubeir
Agency workers are often referred to as “temps”.
Some agency workers are ‘temporary agency workers’, engaged by an employment agency or business and are deployed to perform fixed term assignments at the premises of third party businesses.
Other agency workers are permanent employees of the employment agency, directly employed by the agency and sent to work for different businesses.
Agency working arrangements are not necessarily short-term arrangements. Sometimes they can last for several years, exceeding the qualifying service required to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
Tribunals often have to decide whether a contract of service exists in the context of a tripartite relationship: agency worker, employment business and client. The employment interposed between the agency worker and the client and the functions normally found in a single employer are often spread between two entities, each of which may deny that it is the employer.
The client receives the benefit of the agency worker’s work; the employment business pays the agency worker for their work (and will arrange other, employment-type, benefits such as holidays and sick pay). There may though sometimes be no written contract.
As case law currently stands, there is clear acknowledgement that an agency worker might not be an employee of either the employment business or the client (that carries obvious consequences for the rights and protections available to such workers). Generally though, temporary workers enter into an agreement with the employment business which sets out the terms of the relationship between the parties.
After 12 weeks in the same job, agency workers are entitled to equal treatment as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer. This includes key elements of pay but also other entitlements such as annual leave.
Most ‘temp’ or agency employees can be furloughed if there is no more work due to the economic impacts of Coronavirus. The Government has introduced a job retention scheme which operates to pay 80% of workers’ wages up to a monthly maximum of £2500. Contributions are available under the scheme for any agency worker who is eligible to be furloughed.
If you are a ‘temp’ or agency employee and need clarification on where you stand, contact the Fisher Jones Greenwood quick response team on 01206 700113 for initial telephone advice free of charge or email [email protected].
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