Working as a temp can be a good way to earn money, get started in the world of work or try out a new career move before making it permanent. Temp workers can also benefit the organisations they work for hugely, bringing fresh ideas and energy and additional resources at the exact times they are needed, such as during tourist seasons or over busier operational periods.
Agency, or temp workers are not classified as being self-employed. They have a contract with a temping or recruitment agency but carry out their duties for a different company. They are paid by the agency, who have invoiced the company for their time, plus the agency’s own commission. Other remuneration can also come in the form of repaying expenses, so temp workers must keep hold of all receipt, travel tickets etc. using a filing system or receipt app to store the relevant data.
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As an agency worker, your rights also entitle you to paid holiday days, minimum wage pay and other benefits such as Statutory Sick Pay. You should also expect not to be discriminated against due to gender, race, religion, sexual orientation etc., be asked to break the law or to work in an unsafe environment or without adequate protection and training. You should not experience bullying or prejudice from fellow workers, both temporary and permanent, and the company or organisation must address any instances of this straight away. You should also be allowed access to communal leisure areas, for example the canteen, staff room or kitchen, as well as any other facilities, such as an on-site nursery if you have young children.
You will need to pay National Insurance Contributions and tax on your earnings if they are over a certain amount. The agency will usually take these payments directly from your pay using the PAYE system, along with any student loan repayments that may still be owing. You will receive payslips detailing what has been deducted. You must declare all earnings – if a company tries to offer you cash in hand, you must decline this as it is against the law not to try and avoid paying tax in this way. It can also affect your future abilities to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and could even result in your being fined or prosecuted. If you are concerned about this happening, speak to your agency or HMRC.
The company’s rights and responsibilities
As a temporary worker, you will be bound by the contents of your contract or agreement with regard to what the company for whom you are working expects. Common aspects of such an agreement include set days and hours when you will be expected to work, stated venues or locations for the work, as well as potential dress codes or uniforms, machinery operating instructions and training requirements.
There may also be clauses around confidentiality or restrictions on seeking work with direct competitors for a certain timer period after your contract ends.
In return, the company is obliged to ensure you have everything you need to complete your work in a timely and safe fashion, including protective equipment or clothing. They must pay you on time and as agreed, including any bonuses, sales-related commissions and repayment of expenses. You should be treated the same as their permanent employees.