Advertising a job and interviewing candidates

Using employment agencies to find staff


Employment agencies can find you either temporary or permanent staff, depending on your needs.

You should agree fees and terms before you appoint an employment agency to find candidates on your behalf.

Questions your agency should ask

Your agency should ask the following questions each time you ask them to fill a vacancy:

  • Name of your organisation and the work that it does.
  • Dates that work will start and finish.
  • Position and type of work.
  • Location of the job.
  • The hours the work-seeker will be required to work.
  • Known risks to health and safety and preventative measures in place.
  • Experience, training, qualifications and any authorisation required by you, the law or any professional body to do the job.
  • Any expenses payable by or to the work-seeker.

In addition, when using an agency to recruit permanent members of staff, the agency should also ask:

  • The minimum rate of pay and any other benefits the person can expect.
  • Where applicable, the length of notice the worker will be required to give and expect to receive.

Advantages of using employment agencies

  • You can take someone on for a set period of time.
  • You can try out temporary workers before employing them permanently.
  • The agency will pay the temporary workers and take care of tax issues.
  • For permanent recruitment, your agency may offer a rebate or replacement if a candidate starts but proves to be unsuitable. 

Disadvantages of using employment agencies

  • For permanent recruitment you may have to pay a one-off placement fee to the agency which will usually be based on a percentage of the employee's annual salary.
  • Temporary workers who work on an ongoing basis have certain employment rights.
  • If you do choose to directly employ a temporary worker who has been getting supplied to you by an agency, you may have to pay the agency a 'temp to perm' transfer fee if you employ the worker during whichever of the following periods ends later:

(a) Eight weeks from the day after the day on which they were last supplied to you by the agency

(b) Fourteen weeks from the first day on which the worker was supplied to you by the agency

How to complain about an agency

Employment agencies must comply with the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (NI) Order 1981 (as amended) and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations (NI) 2005 (as amended).

If you are unhappy with your agency, you can make a complaint by contacting the Department for the Economy (DfE) Employment Agency Inspectorate Helpline on Tel 028 9025 7796.