4. Equal treatment

From the day you start work you have a worker’s employment rights.

You also have the same rights as your permanent colleagues to use any shared facilities and services provided by your employer, eg:

  • a canteen or food and drinks machines
  • a workplace creche or mother and baby room
  • car parking or transport services, eg local pick-up service, transport between sites

Rights after 12 weeks

After 12 weeks in the job you qualify for the same rights as someone employed directly. This is known as ‘equal treatment’.

Your rights include:

  • ‘equal pay’ - the same pay as a permanent colleague doing the same job
  • automatic pension enrolment
  • paid annual leave

You won’t be entitled to equal pay if you’re offered a ‘pay between assignments’ contract.

How to count your 12 week period

Start counting your 12 week qualifying period from your first day at work.

You don’t have to be at work for 12 weeks in a row - some types of leave count and there can be breaks.

Don’t count days on sick leave or a break

The qualifying period will pause for sick leave or breaks. Don’t count the days when:

  • you take a break of 6 weeks or less
  • you’re on leave due to sickness or injury for up to 28 weeks
  • you take annual leave you’re entitled to
  • the workplace closes, eg for Christmas or industrial action
  • you’re on jury service for up to 28 weeks

Count time off for pregnancy, paternity or adoption

Your 12 week qualifying period will continue through time off you have for:

  • pregnancy and up to 26 weeks after childbirth
  • adoption leave
  • paternity leave

If your leave is more than 12 weeks you’ll qualify for equal treatment when you return to work.

Start from zero for a new job or role

Your 12 weeks will start again if you:

  • get a new job at a different workplace
  • have a break of more than 6 weeks between jobs at the same workplace
  • stay at your workplace but take a new role that’s ‘substantively different’

A substantively different role is one that’s completely new, different work. It could be a combination of different:

  • skills, or requiring new training
  • pay rate
  • location
  • working hours