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Managing Agency Staff

This page includes information about how to find agency workers to work at Queen Mary. Managers using such workers must comply with the legal duties set out in the Agency Workers Regulations, some of which apply from the first day of the assignment, and others of which apply after the worker has completed a twelve week qualifying period.

Contents

Finding Agency Staff
Complying with the Agency Worker Regulations – What You Need to Know
Complying with the Agency Worker Regulations – What You Need to Do 
Agency workers and applications for “internal only” vacancies

Finding Agency Staff

In the first instance please contact QM Temps, who offer a dedicated and specialist service to both the employer and QMUL students & graduates.

If QM Temps cannot fulfil the service there are five other preferred temporary staff agencies that QMUL uses: Adecco, Hays, Keystone Recruitment, Prospectus and Reed Employment.

You should only look elsewhere for agency staff once these suppliers have all been tried. The provisions for using agency staff in QMUL are described more fully on the Finance Department web pages.

For professional jobs or jobs that involve working with vulnerable people, the agency has the duty to obtain copies of the relevant qualifications and two references. If it has been unable to do this, it must be brought to the hirer's attention

Agency Worker Regulations - What you need to know

The Agency Worker Regulations provide that Agency Staff should have equal treatment with comparable workers directly employed by QMUL.

From the first day of the assignment: an agency worker is entitled to the same “facilities and amenities” (such as child care, canteens, prayer rooms, car parking, showers, etc.) as QMUL staff.

From the start of the 13th week of the assignment: an agency worker is entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions (such as pay and annual leave) as QMUL staff. The worker is excluded from pension rights, season ticket loans, sick pay, maternity pay, etc. (though they are entitled to attend ante-natal appointments). 

In most cases, the Agency will seek to charge more from the 13th week of the assignment onwards to cover the extra costs of supplying the worker.

There are penalties for employers who manipulate the structure of assignments to avoid giving agency workers their “week 13” rights – but this only applies where the worker has two or more assignments with QMUL. So there is nothing in the regulations to stop you ending an agency worker’s assignment before the 13th week.

Any week worked before 1st October 2011 does not count towards the 12 week qualifying period. No agency should be charging enhanced rates before 24 December 2011.

The Centre for Academic and Professional Development has developed an Induction Form tailored to the needs of agency workers. It is available on the CAPD web-site

The HR Department also has web pages that set out the facilities and amenities available to agency workers, and guidance for managers on the effect of the regulations. 

If the regulations are breached the worker can make a claim at Tribunal. The Tribunal will assess who is responsible for any breach of the regulations and may make an award against the Agency or QMUL. In practice:
- QMUL (not the Agency) is likely to be responsible for giving access to “day one” rights
- the Agency is likely to be responsible for giving access to “week 13” rights, provided that managers give appropriate and accurate information to the agency and cooperate with them in establishing how QMUL treats comparable  staff.

Agency Worker Regulations - What you need to do

There are six main things that you need to do:  

1. Induct Agency Workers Systematically

Induct agency workers appropriately: Use the tailored induction form available from the CAPD web-site. Refer the agency worker to the HR web-site which has a page setting out their “day one” entitlements.

2. Make commercial decisions about employing agency staff;  

Manage the length of the assignment:
If possible, ensure that the assignment for any given worker does not exceed 12 weeks.

Make sure you know how much you will be paying: If you are unsure about the length of the assignment, get two rates: a rate for the first 12 weeks; and a rate for any weeks from the 13th week onwards. After the start of the 13th week, the Agency should pay the worker on the basis of the appropriate QMUL grade for the job (and charge QMUL an appropriate rate for doing so). Normally, QMUL staff are appointed on the lowest appropriate increment in the grade.

Keep your options under review: Decide before or in the twelfth week if the premium for keeping the current worker represents good value for QMUL. As you approach the 13th week you will have three options:

1 to keep the agency worker and pay the premium
2 to get another agency worker (who has not recently worked for QMUL in a similar role)
3 to employ someone directly on QMUL terms and conditions – normally on temporary, part-year or fixed-term contract. [After a 12 week hire, the agencies on QMUL’s preferred list charge a minimal “transfer fee” (sometimes nothing at all) if the worker is recruited by QMUL.][Temporary contracts of 6 months or less need not be advertised.]

Never manipulate successive assignments to avoid duties under the law. If you re-hire a worker in a role in which they have worked before, tell the agency in writing that you are prepared to ignore the gap in employment when calculating whether the worker is entitled to “week 13” terms and conditions.

3. Communicate openly with the agency on assignments of 13 weeks (or longer)

Cooperate with the Agency to give them the information they need
: To pay staff at the appropriate rate for week 13 onwards the agency will need:
- an accurate job profile or role description
- a job evaluated grade for that role
- the relevant pay scale 
- relevant terms and conditions (where appropriate you may supply QMUL’s contract for temporary or part-year staff) 
- any other information reasonably requested by the agency
- the pay and conditions that would (or do) apply to a QM employee carrying out a comparable role.]

Make use of the 6 preferred agencies in the QMUL framework agreement: These already have access to QMUL’s terms and conditions and pay scales - other agencies will not. Where the agency does not have access to the information, you will have to provide it. Even those in the framework agreement may need a job profile and grade in order to apply the appropriate terms and conditions.

Keep the agency up-to-date with any changes in the information given: In practice changes in the hired worker’s role, and pay awards are more likely than any other issues.

4. Manage the Pay Rate

Get the best possible value for QMUL:
Don’t overestimate the role or the duties that need covering. Often staff that carry out interim assignments do only a proportion of the duties of the vacancy they are covering. Make this clear at the outset. If need be, write a specific job profile and get an evaluated grade.

Select an appropriate comparator:
This need not be a “permanent” employee. It will often be appropriate to use the terms and conditions of a temporary or part-year employee.

Tell the agency in writing if the worker starts in a “substantively different” role: A substantive change in role sets the “clock” back to zero and the amount paid to the agency should revert to a “first 12 weeks” rate. This is particularly helpful to QMUL where the worker moves into a role that would attract a lower grade or wage in any case.

5. Remember that the agency is the "employer"

Don’t confuse the role of the agency and QMUL:
QMUL pays the agency what it charges; the agency is responsible for paying the worker at the appropriate rate and applying the terms and conditions of “13th week” or more staff.

You need not count weeks: the Agency should monitor entitlement and pay the worker correctly - and notify you in advance when the rate they charge you for a given worker is about to change. If you do not agree that the worker qualifies for 13th week rights, ask the Agency to justify their decision [PDF 23KB]

Let the Agency decide if there has been a “substantive change in role: Such a change would set the clock back to zero. If you notify a change but the agency does not agree, that is their responsibility. You have the option to:
- argue your case, but stipulate that they are responsible for making the final decision; or
- end the assignment and seek another worker from that agency or a different one.

For long-term staff, let the Agency manage the payment of increments: workers in some jobs will be entitled to pay increments, but it is the Agency that should pay these. Ensure that for agency staff that have been with QMUL for some time, the agency does not apply increments on the basis of any time worked before 1st October 2011.  The earliest increment payable to an agency worker is on 1st August 2012.

6. Let the Agency Manage Holiday Entitlement  

Pay the agency only for days and hours on which they supply a worker:
There is no need to pay the agency for any hours or days the worker doesn’t work – even if they are entitled to the time-off. After the start of the 13th week, the agency will, of course have a duty to pay the temporary worker paid leave, but the agency will levy this amount in the rate it charges, not by charging QMUL for time that the worker is not supplied. Similarly, if the worker takes time off to attend ante-natal classes or appointments, the agency has a duty to pay them, but QMUL will not pay the agency for the time the employee is away from work.

Do not ask the agency to supply workers in periods when QMUL is closed: Often December and January are periods of low activity as so many staff take leave, bank holidays and closure days. Review the need for agency staff at these times (and other periods of diminished activity) and notify the agency of your plans as soon as possible. 

Agency workers and applications for “internal only” vacancies

QMUL is required to give agency workers access to the same information about vacancies (including “internal only” vacancies) as our own staff. This duty applies from the first day of the assignment.

Managers should consider applications from agency staff at the same time as internal applicants already on QMUL contracts. However, in redundancy situations, internal applicants whose jobs are at risk will take priority over agency workers as well as other internal applicants.

Sometimes a “finder’s fee” may be payable to an agency if a worker they supply is appointed to a QMUL contract. In such cases there is no legal obligation to appoint the agency worker, even if they are the best candidate. Managers may decide on a case by case basis whether it represents good value to appoint the individual and pay the finder’s fee.

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