Are agency workers protected from discrimination?

Yes. Under the Equality Act 2010, you have the right not to be treated less favourably than other workers, by either the agency or hiring company, on the grounds of race, disability, sex, pregnancy/maternity, marriage/civil partnership, being transgender, sexual orientation, religious belief or age.

Agency workers also have important additional rights to equal treatment. Some of the rights apply from the first day of an assignment while others require you to have worked in the same job for the same hirer for 12 weeks.

From the first day in an assignment, you have the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable employee in relation to collective facilities and amenities provided by the hirer for the use of all or certain groups of staff. Examples of collective facilities and amenities include canteens and staff rooms, toilet and shower facilities, crèches, transport services (such as local pick-ups and drop-offs) and car parking.

From day one, you also have the right to be informed about vacancies with the hirer while on assignment with them. The aim is to give you the same opportunity as a comparable worker to find a permanent job with the hirer.

After you have worked 12 weeks in the same job for the same hirer, you will also be entitled to the same pay, holiday and working time entitlements as a comparable direct employee of the hirer doing the same job.

After the same 12-week period, you will also qualify for rights to time off for antenatal appointments, including unpaid time off to accompany your partner to up to two ante natal appointments and new rights to time off to arrange adoption appointments. For more information, see our section on Family-friendly Work.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.