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Check if your agency is paying you the right amount

This advice applies to Wales

As an agency worker, you should get:

When you’ve been in the same job for the same organisation for 12 weeks, you should also get the same:

  • basic pay as if you’d been hired directly by the organisation where you’re working

  • amount of paid holiday as other employees doing similar work as you at the organisation where you’re working

You can find out more about your rights after 12 weeks in the same job

Check if your agency can take money from your pay

Your agency can only take money from your pay if one of the following applies:

  • it’s allowed by the law - like tax, national insurance, student loan repayments or money deducted because of a court order

  • you’ve already agreed to it in writing

  • it’s allowed by your contract or key information document

  • you’ve been paid too much by mistake

Your contract with your agency will show what deductions the agency will make. Those deductions might include fees for services the agency provide to you. 

If you started with a new agency on or after 6 April 2020, they must give you a ‘key information document’ before you start work with them. It must also include details of any charges. 

If you started working for an agency before 6 April 2020, they should have given you a contract. Your contract should say what your agency can charge you. If you haven’t got the details, write to the agency to ask for them. 

If your agency won’t give you this information, you can make a complaint on GOV.UK. The government will investigate and might take action against your agency. You don’t have to give your name when you complain if you don’t want to. 

Check what services your agency can charge you for

Your agency can't charge you a fee for finding you work unless it’s an entertainment or modelling agency. Those agencies can charge commission for finding you work and fees for promotional services. You can read more about fees from entertainment agencies on GOV.UK.

Other agencies can charge you for services like:

  • CV writing

  • providing or cleaning a uniform

  • providing accommodation

  • transport from your home to your temporary workplace

  • training or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

  • providing you with meals or refreshments

Your agency isn’t allowed to make you buy these services before they find you work. You should be allowed to cancel the services from the agency and buy them elsewhere. 

Your agency can’t charge you so much for services that your hourly pay is less than the National Minimum Wage - unless they’re charging you for accommodation.

If your agency charges you for accommodation

 They can charge up to £8.36 per day for accommodation without affecting your NMW. They can't charge you more than this if the extra amount means your hourly pay is less than the NMW.

Example - accommodation fees and the NMW

Whitney is an agency worker who gets the NMW of £8.91 an hour for a 40-hour week. Her weekly pay is £8.91 x 40 hours = £356.40.

The most Whitney’s agency can deduct for accommodation is £8.36 a day, or £58.52 a week.

Whitney’s agency deducts £50 a week for accommodation. This means Whitney is actually getting £356.40 - £50 = £306.40 per week. If you divide her weekly pay by the 40 hours she works, you get £7.66 an hour.  

Although £7.66 an hour is below the NMW, Whitney still counts as getting the NMW because the amount her agency takes for accommodation (£50) is less than the maximum they’re allowed to charge (£58.52).

If you want to cancel services the agency charges you for

You can cancel without a penalty if you give the correct notice. Your contract with the agency should say how much notice you must give. You must give the notice in writing.

The minimum notice you have to give is:

  • 30 working days if you’re cancelling photos from an entertainment agency 

  • 10 working days if you’re cancelling living accommodation

  • 5 working days for all other services

Your contract with the agency might say you must give them more than the minimum notice. 

If your agency is insisting you buy their services, talk to an adviser.

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If another company charges you fees

Your agency might ask you to sign up to another company that will pay your wages and give you payslips.That company is called an 'umbrella' or 'payroll' company. If you’re not sure if you’re being paid by an umbrella company, ask your agency.

Your payslip will show deductions for tax, national insurance and any fees charged for services like providing uniforms. It’ll also show any administration fee the umbrella company charges your agency. Check your contract or key information document for details of what you should be charged. 

Your agency might let you choose to be paid directly by them or through an umbrella company. The agency might say you’ll get a higher rate of pay with the umbrella company. You should ask the agency for the different rates of pay and deductions to compare the contracts and see which is better for you. 

Your agency can’t force you to sign up with an umbrella company but if it’s the only way they can pay their workers, you might have to agree or find a different agency.

If your agency refuses to pay you

Your agency has to pay you for work you’ve done even if the organisation where you were working hasn’t paid the agency. For example, the organisation might not pay the agency if they weren’t happy with your work. 

If you haven’t got a timesheet, your agency might delay paying you to check if you worked the hours claimed. They must pay you even if you can’t produce a timesheet approved by the organisation you work for. 

You might need to show evidence of the number of hours you’ve actually worked - for example through:

  • signing-in records at the workplace

  • clocking in and out records 

  • evidence from other workers at the workplace

You should keep your own record of how many hours you worked each day at each workplace, for example by photocopying your timesheets.

If you think you’re not getting the pay you’re entitled to

You should talk to an adviser. You might be able to solve the problem by writing to your agency. You should explain why you think you’re not getting the right pay. Check what you can do if you still don’t get the right pay.

If you think too much is being deducted from your pay, you should complain to your agency. If you’re paid through an umbrella company, you can complain to them too.If you're not sure if your contract is with the umbrella company or the agency, you can complain to both of them at the same time - you should put both company names and addresses when you write to them. 

If you still aren’t paid what you’re owed, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. You must do so within 3 months minus 1 day of the last time you weren’t paid what you should have been. You should talk to an adviser if you want to make a tribunal claim. 

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