Your Rights as an Agency Worker

Issued : 20 July 2020

The first victims of job loss in a down-turn or recession are often agency workers or other forms of precarious workers on contracts like fixed-term contracts (FTC) or on-call pools. We have already seen this, for example, in Bank of Ireland, where CPL workers were informed they no longer had jobs. [1] We have estimated there are between 1500-2000 agency workers between the main banks in Ireland and unfortunately all agency workers are effectively at risk of losing their jobs, incomes and livelihoods given what the banks have said publicly about costs. We believe these 1500 or more workers should have permanent jobs and job security protections like permanent staff. The fact that there are this many clearly indicates a sector that is understaffed and cannot afford to reduce numbers.

FSU is opposed to redundancies, of all workers, at this time. We have called for a pause on redundancies and we are campaigning against redundancies. [2] [3] While we may not be able to stop all job losses we will reduce them and we commit to providing a collective voice to all agency workers in the sector. Join FSU to have your voice heard.

Helpline and Survey

If you are an agency, or FTC, worker in the sector call us on our helpline (ROI) 1800 819 191 (NI-GB) 0800 358 0071. We are hosting a specific helpline on your rights and our campaign for you between 12-6pm this week on Wednesday 22nd July. Call us for support or guidance. You can also tell us about your concerns or issues via our survey which will form the basis of our agency workers campaign in the union.

We are committed, over the long term, to provide a voice for agency workers in the sector and better more secure employment.

Your basic rights

It is important to know that as well as union support you also have basic employment rights. The Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 sets our these basic protections. [5] In essence, you have the right to equal treatment and conditions as permanent colleagues in the host employment. For example, you have the right to equal pay, the same working time and breaks, the same facilities that are available to permanent employees and the same chance to apply for roles or jobs that are advertised internally to permanent staff. However, it is not as clear cut in areas like redundancies and other rights and that is why joining FSU is vital to longer term job security and dignity at work. We saw earlier in the pandemic agency workers rightly speak out about being treated less favourably. [4] FSU has since acted on this and is making our views known to employer agencies and host employers.

For people on fixed-term contracts it is also important you are conscious of your rights especially around repeated renewal of contracts. You should not be given more than two successive FTC’s totalling less than a 4 four year duration for the same role or you may well be entitled to a permanent contract. If you have a question on this call our helpline.

If you have any questions, please call us at (ROI) 1800 819 191 (NI-GB) 0800 358 0071.

To tell us more about work complete our survey and share with fellow agency workers.

Gareth Murphy

Head of Industrial Relations and Campaigns 

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[1] https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/bank-of-ireland-to-cut-101-workers-on-temporary-contracts-1.4254414

[2] https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/ulster-bank-northern-ireland-seeking-to-cut-40-jobs-1.4300393

[3] https://www.fsunion.org/updates/2020/05/15/financial-services-union-responds-to-staff-reducti/

[4] https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/aib-call-centre-staff-express-concern-at-coming-into-work-during-the-pandemic-39172580.html

[5] https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/types_of_employment/agency_workers.html