The hidden costs of hiring temps
20th February 2010
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Do you often find that you hire temporary staff in order to cover for a key member of staff (like executive assistants to MDs, office managers) or to cope during the extremely busy periods at work? If so, the new government announcement will have a major impact on your business.

Currently many employment law rights (the right to claim unfair dismissal, the right to a statutory redundancy payment, right to certain minimum periods of notice, etc) are only available to employees. However, the government has announced that it will implement legislation to give greater employment protection to agency workers.

The basic principle is that after 12 weeks work, agency workers should be entitled to equal treatment in terms of pay and “basic working and employment conditions”, compared to their colleagues who are directly employed or engaged by the hiring organisation (you).

So what does “equal treatment” actually mean? Under the draft regulations, agency workers would be entitled to equal treatment in relation to holidays, breaks, overtime, notice period, etc. Equal treatment in relation to “pay” would include basic salary plus other contractual benefits directly linked to the work undertaken by the agency worker. This covers holiday pay, payment for overtime, shift allowances, unsociable hours premiums. However, occupational social security schemes (such as sick pay and occupational pension rights) would be excluded. It is also proposed that from day one agency workers will have equal treatment to on-site facilities, for example, staff crèche, transport facilities, canteen.

Therefore if you regularly engage agency staff on engagements lasting for 12 weeks or more, you will need to review your policies to ensure that agency workers are treated in the same way as you would treat permanent employees.

New rules mostly likely will come into force after October 2011.

The difference between an agency worker and a virtual assistant after October 2011:


Agency Worker

Virtual Assistant

Office space required?



Access to on-site facilities required?



Available long-term?

Possibly, however after 12 weeks new pay & right rules will apply. Otherwise a new worker will need to be hired and trained.

Yes, new rules won’t apply. No ongoing hiring and training costs.

Holidays, breaks, overtime required?

Equal treatment as other permanent employees after 12 weeks.

We will take breaks and holidays (we are all humans) however work will be arranged in a way that it will cause NO INTERRUPTION to your business.

Do you need to pay for holidays and overtime?


No, unless specifically requested and is part of the contract.


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About the Author

Tamara B

Member since: 8th May 2012

I'm a Virtual Assistant offering secretarial, book-keeping and social media marketing services to small businesses and self-employed professionals. I design and write e-newsletters, blogs, websites and...

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