Agency workers in dark on employment rights - Palmers Solicitors

Agency workers in dark on employment rights

A new study has found that agency workers are often unaware of their employment rights and are reluctant to raise workplace issues because they are worried about job security.

The findings, based on analysis of calls to a helpline run by workplace relations specialist Acas, revealed that almost one fifth of all calls (19 per cent) related to contract issues. The analysis, published on 19 March, also found that agency workers calling the helpline were often:

  • unaware of their rights, particularly around holiday pay, notice periods and the 12-week period after which an agency worker who has been continuously employed in that time becomes entitled to the same basic terms and conditions of employment as a directly employed worker doing the same job; and
  • afraid of asserting statutory rights because they are worried about what they see as an imbalance of power in the employment relationship.

Acas chair Sir Brendan Barber said: “Our analysis reveals that agency workers can feel a sense of insecurity and fear around their contracts, similar to those raised by calls to our helpline on zero hours contracts.

“We found examples of agency workers who were afraid of questioning their employment rights or completely unaware that they were entitled to some basic rights.

“Some workers also complained that they were asked to take on tasks that they were not qualified to handle and of employers wanting to ignore the law so that they could sack people immediately.”

Palmers’ employment law specialist Lara Murray said: “It is not just agency workers who may be unclear about their employment rights or feel uncomfortable about raising legitimate concerns with their employer.

“Employment law is vast and changes frequently, which means that it is important to take advice from a suitably qualified professional to find out exactly where you stand, whether you are having trouble over parental leave requests, believe that you are being treated in a discriminatory way, feel that you have been unfairly dismissed or are facing redundancy.

“We offer cost-effective fixed fee interviews and many people find that legal expenses cover for employment disputes is also included in their household or car insurance policy. For more information, please contact our Employment Law team.”