Do agency workers get paid holiday?

Yes. You should receive at least 5.6 weeks' paid holiday a year. 

In the past, some agencies tried to get round this by saying that your hourly pay rate included holiday pay and, therefore, that they did not have to give extra pay if you took leave. However, as a result of a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), this practice (known as 'rolled-up pay') has been outlawed, and agency workers have a right to receive payment on days they take as holiday. 

As an agency worker, your hours and pay may vary considerably over time.  

In April 2020, there was a change to the law that is used to work out the holiday and holiday pay entitlement of workers with irregular pay and hours. 

 If your work as an agency worker has no fixed or regular hours, your holiday pay must be based on your average pay over the previous 52 weeks (holiday pay used to be averaged over 12 weeks).  

If, for any of these 52 weeks, you got no pay at all, your employer must use an earlier week instead for calculating holiday.If you got a small amount of pay for a week for example because you were off sick and getting Statutory Sick Pay, you should use another week where you received your normal pay for calculating holiday. This is because you should get paid the same when you're on holiday as when you're at work. 

Your employer should only count back as far as is needed to get 52 weeks of your usual pay. If necessary, they can look at the pay you got over the previous 104 weeks, but no further. 

If you have not yet been employed for 52 weeks, your employer should look at how many full weeks you’ve been employed for. 

There is government guidance on calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular pay and hours. The guidance is not straightforward, so if you need help understanding how it applies to you, you should contact Citizens Advice or the Acas helpline.  

In addition to statutory holiday rights under the Working Time Directive, agency workers have extra rights under the Agency Workers Regulations. In particular, since 1 October 2011, temporary agency workers have had the right to the same holiday entitlement (pro rata to their hours) as a comparable direct hire employed by the hirer to do the same job. This right applies once the agency worker has completed a 12-week qualifying period

For example, if the hirer's employees doing the same job as you are entitled to 35 days' holiday a year, you should also be entitled to 35 days, once you have completed the 12-week qualifying period. 

If you work part-time, your leave entitlement can be calculated on a pro rata basis. In other words, your entitlement will be proportionate to the hours you work. For example, if you only work six months rather than a complete year, you will be entitled to half the annual entitlement. 

After qualifying for equal treatment, you should be treated the same as the hirer's employees when requesting and being permitted to take holidays. You will also be entitled to equal treatment on enhanced pay for working on bank holidays or public holidays, and the right to time off on bank holidays or public holidays. 

Your employer is not allowed to “buy off” your rights under the Agency Worker Regulations. For example, it is against the law for your employer to give you less holiday than your directly employed counterparts but compensate you with a premium hourly rate. 

If you are in doubt about your entitlement, seek further assistance from your union, or an advice agency if you are not a union member. 

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.

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