Using a recruitment agency to find staff

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 Acas helpline.

  1. Step 1 Check your business is ready to employ staff

  2. Step 2 Recruit someone

    You need to advertise the role and interview candidates. You can use a recruitment agency to do this or do it yourself.

    1. Find out about recruiting someone yourself on Acas
    2. You are currently viewing: Find out about using a recruitment agency

    As an employer you must make sure you recruit employees fairly.

    1. Avoid discrimination during recruitment
    2. Make your application process accessible for employees with disabilities or health conditions
  3. and Check they have the right to work in the UK

  4. and Find out if they need a DBS check

    You may need to check someone's criminal record, for example, if they'll be working in healthcare or with children.

    1. Find out if you need a DBS check
    2. How to do a DBS check
  5. Step 3 Check if they need to be put into a workplace pension

    Check if you need to put your employee into a workplace pension scheme:

  6. Step 4 Agree a contract and salary

  7. Step 5 Tell HMRC about your new employee