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Agency Workers?


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I've been an "agency worker" working for the same company for 16 years now. I work full time, am paid less than my staff colleagues, get no pension contributions or other enhancements to my package, and have very limited employment rights.


Legally, once I'd worked for the agency for two years I gained employment rights as a permanent employee of the agency, but that just means they only have to offer me another assignment doing anything they like for anything above minimum wage if the company I actually work for decides to get rid of me. If I turn down any alternative assignment - which could be permanent night shifts disembowling chickens on a production line somewhere at ?5:75 per hour - I'd be deemed to have resigned and not be entitled to any redundancy at all. This is exactly what happened to a number of my colleagues last year when the company decided to pull out of a particular market sector and told the agency that they wouldn't be needing the guys who serviced it any more.


This situation all came about because the firm I work for had downsized drasticaly in the early 90's, and had paid out an absolute FORTUNE in voluntary redundancy packages to people who were, frankly, already overpaid. They then realised that the guys who had volunteered for the packages were exactly the kind of guys they didn't actually want to lose, i.e. self starters, confident of finding work elsewhere, not afraid of change etc. etc., and much of what the were left with consisted of the sick, the lame and the lazy. They had to back-fill, but were determined never to get stuck with such a high cost of getting rid of people again.


Virtually everyone who has been taken on here since the mid 90's has been employed through an agency. This has enabled the company to tear up the pay scales for all the different job roles, deny us entry to the pension scheme and the company BUPA, allow us fewer holidays, and be able to get rid of us whenever they like. Big promises of mass conversions to permanent staff status get made every couple of years, but no more than a handful ever get it.


There are now far more of us agency guys than there are staff members, and having seen the treatment meted out to a few of us over the past year we've now all joined a union and are in the process of forcing recognition from the agency. Maybe sticking together will provide us with some degree of protection.


Most companies within my industry have gone down the same road, so it's virtually impossible to just go and work somewhere else.[/u]

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The part that gets my goat about agencies is the fact that they charge the employer a lot more per hour than they pay you ( yes I know thats how they make money but I still dont agree with it ), you have no rights and get a lot less than your 'permanently employed' colleagues...and of course there's always the old carrot on a stick meaningless words from the employers about possible full time contracts for the hardest working agency workers that never come to fruition.


They lure you in with promises of work and when you go inside they get you to sign up and mostly the job you went in for you dont end up getting anyway!!


Its a shame it was the banks that went t*ts up and not the agencies as I for one would be glad to see the back of them !


British industry...foreign owned...staffed by slaves with no rights :evil:

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But doesn't the current absence of adequate "labour laws" allow firms to employ the cheapest labour, in order to provide the customer with the "cheapest" price - isn't it what they call "competition"?! :wink:


I suppose you are happy with that obs as long as they are "local"?


Agency workers should NOT exist unless they are doing seasonal work.

Even students are losing out to foreign workers in the summer doing strawberry picking and the like.


We fought at work to give the few agency workers the same rights as everyone else, and also got it built into any contracts, that if the job ran for longer than 6 months it would become permanent.

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Can we blame employers for implementing European works or agencies. Have we not brought about this on our self?s. When times where prosperous no one was eager to do this category of work for this type of pay on a sort time arrangements.

hence employers then retained to implement agency workers. This had to be done to maintain production flowing in may workshops along with work places.

however now times are difficult and work is short, we go around saying we want them jobs for ourselves. No one is stopping the English working abroad? we don?t see places like Australia saying ?get Brit out they are taking our jobs? like we do.

Times are hard and will get a lot worse. It is a bad time to be employed as no one knows who will be next for unemployment.

But are we also paying now for the good times we hard back when thing where better?.

but surly we must have all known, a good thing will not last for ever.


Being self employed I always said I would never go back working for an employer, but in desperation times I would until things pick up .but then I would drop them like a lead balloon.

But acting like this are we just going back to old times and not looking forward to making sure this will never happen again ?


agency workers should be better covered, as they where willing to step in to help businesses when on one wanted the jobs,

in my eyes helped many businesses to survive still to this day,

but in a recession time they are the first to go, without a thank you, just a good bye.

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Some companies will only advertise their jobs and employ people through agencies. Many will not employ the person directly. It is also usually a requrement of the agency that the applicant themselves have his/her own business or work under an 'umberella' company.


This happens a lot in engineering and IT although a 'contractor' employed through the agency does usually get a much higher hourly rate that normal staff doing the same type of job (but with out the 'staff perks' of course) even after the agency have taken their huge weekly cut :roll:

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There are definitely three distinct classes of agency worker within the IT and Engineering industries.


There are the high hourly rate, short term contract guys - many of whom are employed by their own limited companies acting as sub-contractors to the commisioning company. These guys are responsible for their own tax, don't get holiday pay, sick pay or other benefits, and are usually brought in for specific projects which the commisioning companies don't have the in-house skills for. The agency's role in this situation is usually restricted to bringing the two parties together - for which they receive a fee.


There are also the short term, often unskilled, agency contractors who are brought in as extra pairs of hands to enable a company to meet peak demands or cover for sickness/maternity etc. In these cases the workers have few or no rights and the agencies often charge the company up to twice the hourly rate which the worker actually receives. This sort of work appeals to some people who want to be able choose to work some weeks and not others.


Then there are a large number of long term, skilled, agency contractors like myself who effectively become permanent members of the teams they work in (16 years in my case, and I was the team leader for 5 of those), but allow the company to avoid virtually all of the responsibilities they would have under employment law to a direct employee. Typically in these cases, the agency charges around 10 - 15% on top of all of the contractor's costs - salary, overtime, expenses, company car, etc.

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It may well be more expensive to hire agency staff but the obvious benefits shine through in times like these.... no redundancy payouts (which can run into tens of thousands of pounds for someone with years of service)


It is just one of the many things that have been used in order to create the flexible workforce that this country is now famous for!

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I'm sure I readsomewhere, that it actually cost the NHS more to employ agency nurses? :roll::wink:


More in basic pay per hour, yes. But no holiday pay, no pension contributions, no union to deal with, and they only pay for the hours they need covered.


Makes sense for covering short term gaps, but some trusts have been relying too heavily on agencies.

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I know a couple of nurses and they both get around 6-7 weeks holiday a year (it depends on length of service). If they work Bank Holidays or weekend shifts they can also bank days off in lieu.


They both spend at least a month per year doing agency work while they're on holiday from their NHS jobs. One has even found herself working as an agency nurse to cover her own absence!

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On 22nd February there is due to be the second reading of a private members bill tabled by Labour MP Andrew Miller.


The Temporary and Agency Workers (Equal Treatment) Bill aims to create a level playing field for agency workers with regard to pay and other conditions of service - with the exception of pensions, and after a qualifying period.


Last year a similar bill by Paul Farrelly MP received the support of well over 100 MPs but it fell after being talked out by the government.


I wonder what our two MP's will do this time round?

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...... by Brussels! :wink:


If Brussels had their way this would already be law over here. Most of Europe has for some time insisted that an agency worker has to be taken on permanent after working in the same role for a qualifying period - typically about six months to a year.


This must be one of the very few issues where we're NOT doing what Brussels decrees.

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Keep repeating the same thing often enough and someone will believe you in the end!! :roll::roll:


No we won't Asp.... we all know he is in favour of the UK wasting billions and billions of our money bankrolling the poor states of Europe.


How anyone can agree and vote with that is absolutely bloody beyond me!!

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