Where I work, temporary agency staff are paid less than full-time staff to do the same job. Is this allowed?

No – at least not once the ‘temps’ have been in their role for 12 weeks. 

The Agency Workers Regulations say that after 12 weeks on an assignment in the same role for the same hirer, temporary agency workers must get the same pay, holidays and working time as a full-time equivalent doing the same job. 

The temporary agency workers at your workplace may have signed agreements known as 'Swedish derogation' contracts. This was a legal loophole that some employers took advantage of to avoid the legal obligation to pay equal pay. (The ‘Swedish derogation’ loophole only ever applied to agency workers’ right to equal pay – not equal hours or holidays.) 

From April 2020, the Swedish derogation loophole has been closed. 

This change follows union campaigning, including a formal complaint brought by the TUC to the European Commission. The evidence was clear that Swedish derogation contracts were being abused by employers and were rarely, if ever, entered into at a worker’s request. 

Many employers will have been switching away from ‘Swedish derogation-style’ contracts over the 12 months up to April 2020, in anticipation of the change to the law. 

From 6 April 2020, any agency worker who still has a ‘Swedish derogation-style’ contract became entitled to equal pay after twelve weeks on the same assignment for the same hirer. 

Speak to your union rep to find out more.   

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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