As an agency worker, your agency has a responsibility not to place you in a job for which you are not appropriately qualified. Your agency also has a legal duty to find out about any health and safety risks that may exist at the placement company, and what the placement company is doing to prevent and control those risks. They should check that the hirer has carried out a thorough health and safety risk assessment and ensure that you are made aware of the situation before placing you with the organisation.
The company where you are placed is responsible for making sure that the workplace is a safe working environment for you and must provide appropriate health and safety training. Employers must carry out a risk assessment of the work activities carried out. This assessment includes identifying any hazards, who is at risk, then taking action to remove them or to reduce them as far as possible. The employer must write down the results of the risk assessment, do follow-up checks from time to time and take further action if necessary.
If you are an agency worker operating in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish-gathering or any associated packaging and processing sector, your agency must hold a licence from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) which will require your employer to maintain standards, including in the context of health and safety. Health and safety enforcement is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive and their website has useful information for agency and temporary workers.Employment agency standards are also the responsibility of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI). This body is responsible for making sure that a worker is paid their full wages; that the employment agency does not charge a fee for finding an agency worker assignments; that the agency worker gets written information about the type of work the agency will find them and information about each assignment; that workers are not forced to pay for extra services from the agency, and that the agency worker has a safe environment to work in.
From April 2020, the employment business must give you a document, called a ‘Key Information Document’, before you sign up with them. This must set out the main things you need to know. This document must make it clear who will be paying you, what your take-home wages will look like, and where you will be working.
You can make a complaint to the EASI via the Acas Helpline. EASI has powers to inspect and fine employment agencies and businesses.
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