If you run an employment agency or employment business you have to follow certain rules.

You cannot:

  • charge a fee to a work-seeker for work finding services
  • stop someone from working elsewhere or terminating their contract with you
  • make someone tell them the name of any future employer
  • withhold payments or wages due
  • supply a temporary worker to replace someone taking part in industrial action
  • charge for a uniform without telling the worker in advance
  • make unlawful deductions from pay

You must also make sure workers are:

The rules are different for entertainment and modelling agencies and businesses.

Organisations not covered by the rules

The rules on employment agencies and businesses don’t apply to:

  • university appointment boards or services and certain other educational institutions
  • local councils
  • trade unions, employers’ organisations and certain professional members bodies
  • charities
  • certain services provided just for ex-members of HM forces or for people released from prisons and other institutions

Publications advertising work-finding services

If you run a publication or website totally or mostly aimed at providing a work-finding service you’ll normally have to follow the rules for employment agencies and businesses.

However, if job advertisements are only a small part of what is published then the rules probably don’t apply.

Paying work-seekers

Employment agencies

If you run an employment agency you aren’t responsible for paying a work-seeker after you’ve introduced them to a hirer.

Employment businesses

If you run an employment business you’re responsible for paying the temporary work-seekers you supply.

You must pay a temporary work-seeker for all the hours they work, even if you haven’t been paid by the hirer or the work-seeker hasn’t got a timesheet authorised by the hirer.

Difference between employment agencies and businesses

Employment agencies

Employment agencies find work for work-seekers who are employed and paid by employers. This is often called ‘permanent employment’ because once the worker has been taken on, they’re an employee of the company they’re working for. However, different rules apply to entertainment and modelling.

Employment businesses

Employment businesses (also sometimes known as agencies) engage a work-seeker under a contract who then works under the supervision of someone else. This is normally called ‘temporary agency work’ or ‘temping’.

Workers under these arrangements are paid by the business instead of the company they’re supplied to.

When a business does both it has to follow the rules for both employment agencies and employment businesses.