Employment agencies and employment businesses

General principles to running an employment agency or an employment business


Work-seekers working through an employment agency or employment business may be employees or workers as defined in employment legislation.

If so they will be entitled to employment rights such as to be paid at least the national minimum wage and rights to rest breaks and paid leave. Read more on employment status.

Treating work-seekers fairly

There are protections in place and set out in the employment agency legislation to ensure that work-seekers are treated fairly.

The obligations, in general terms, are that you must make sure that you follow the law when:

  • keeping records about the work-seekers and hiring companies
  • charging any fees to work-seekers or hirers
  • issuing terms and conditions to work-seekers and hiring companies
  • advertising jobs and placing workers with hiring companies

What you cannot do

As an employment agency or employment business you cannot:

  • charge a fee to a work-seeker for work finding services (different rules apply if you are running an employment agency or business to find work in the entertainment or modelling sectors - for more information see entertainment and modelling agencies
  • stop a work-seeker from working elsewhere, from terminating their contract with you, or require them to tell you the identity of any future employer
  • (employment businesses only) withhold payments or wages due to work-seekers for work they have carried out
  • (employment businesses only) supply a temporary work-seeker to replace an individual taking part in industrial action
  • Employment Agency Inspectorate Helpline
    028 9025 7796
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