EmploymentRecruitment industry

What is an agency worker?

An agency worker, also often called temps, benefits from special employment rights under the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)

Zero hour contracts, gig workers, temps, freelancers, agency workers… This is all very confusing!

This article explains:

  • What is an agency worker?
  • What rights do agency workers have?
  • What are the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)?
  • How to find agency workers in the UK?

What is an agency worker?

According to the government‘s definition, ‘you are an agency worker if you have a contract with an agency but you work temporarily for a hirer’.

In this definition, agency can include recruitment agencies, typically ‘temp agencies’.

That’s why, in the general language, agency workers are often called ‘temps’ or ‘temporary workers’.

Be mindful about the subtlety in the definition – you’re not an agency worker if:

  • you’re self-employed, even if you find work through an agency
  • you’re using a recruitment agency for a permanent placement
  • you’re an employee of a temporary agency, having opted for a ‘pay between assignment contract’ (i.e., applying the Swedish derogation)

What rights do agency workers have?

By definition, agency workers are ‘workers’, entitled to a number of employment rights such as:

  • being paid, at the minimum, the National Minimum Wage
  • receiving paid holidays (at the minimum, the statutory minimum)
  • not work more than 48 hours on average per week (in line with the Working Time Directive)
  • being protected against unlawful discrimination and deduction from wages

Agency workers have also specific rights, in line with the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).


Agencies are not allowed, by law, to charge agency workers a fee for finding or trying to find work.

Equal treatment

  • From their first day at work, agency workers are entitled to use any shared facilities and services provided bu the employer to permanent members of staff. This can include a canteen or a workplace creche.
  • After 12 weeks, agency workers are entitled to:
    • the same level of pay as permanent employees doing the same or a similar job
    • paid annual leave
    • and automatic pension enrolment.

Written terms of employment

Agencies must give agency workers ‘written terms of employment‘, including:

  • their notice period
  • their pay
  • their holiday entitlement

What are the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)?

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) came from a European Directive dating back to 2008, and was applied in the UK in October 2011.

I like the way it’s explained simply by Acas, the UK Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service: AWR is there to ‘improve pay and conditions of agency workers’.

In a nutshell after a ‘qualifying period’ of 12 weeks, agency workers qualify for ‘equal treatment’. This means that they’re entitled to the same rights as permanent employees in the same company, in the same or a similar position.

How to find agency workers in the UK?

There are more than 11,000 temp recruitment agencies in the UK, the second largest temporary agency recruitment market in the world, and 1.3 million agency workers.

In a nutshell, you have quite a lot of options to find agency workers! However, because it’s a very fragmented market, it can be hard and time consuming to find temps.

TempaGoGo is here to help – we connect you with rated recruitment agencies, specialised in your needs, to help you find temporary staff fast.

Agencies with available candidates will typically come back to you in less than 5 minutes. Time to save time and money!

So, why not try TempaGoGo to find the temp you need?

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