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Problems with pay between assignment contracts

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Pay between assignment contracts are supposed to protect you if you have a gap in work between temporary jobs. The agency should still pay you if you have to wait to start another job.

However, there are some problems you might face with pay between assignments contracts.

Do you have to sign a pay between assignments contract?

You can't be forced to sign a pay between assignments contract, but if you don't you may not be offered work with that employer.

Your actual hours of work are different from those set out in your pay between assignments contract

This could mean that the contract may not meet the conditions of a pay between assignments contract.

If your hours of work are different, you may not have a pay between assignments contract and you may be entitled to the same basic pay as permanent employees after 12 weeks in the same job with the same employer.

If you're not sure what kind of contract you're on you may need to get help from an employment specialist at your local Citizens Advice Bureau, find nearest CAB.

An agency invents jobs to try to avoid paying you between assignments

If you end one job and don't work for more than a week, the agency must pay you. To get round this, an agency may invent jobs to so it looks as though there is no gap of a week or more between you working.

If this happens, you could argue that there is really no job for you to do because you're not working for an employer. This means that the agency should pay you under the pay between assignments contract.

If the agency refuses to accept this, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

The agency asks you to come in for an hour to avoid paying you between assignments

Pay between assignments contracts say that you have to do a minimum of one hour's work each week. If you do this, the agency doesn't have to pay you between jobs.

If you've finished one job and there isn't another one for you to start straightaway, the agency may try to ask you to come into the agency for an hour to avoid paying you.

They should not do this. If you aren't on a genuine job and the agency is refusing to pay you, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Next steps

If you think the agency or the employer have been inventing jobs to avoid paying you between assignments, you can raise a grievance. This means you write a letter to the agency to complain that you think they are inventing jobs to avoid paying you. This may be enough for the agency to stop doing this and to start paying you between jobs.

If raising a grievance doesn't sort the problem out, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. You must do this within a set time limit. This is three months less one day from the date the thing you're complaining about first happens.

A tribunal can order either the agency, or your employer, or both, to compensate you. There is no maximum award but you must be paid a minimum award of two weeks' pay, unless the tribunal finds that you have behaved unreasonably.

You can get specialist help to raise a grievance or make a claim to an employment tribunal from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, find nearest CAB.

More information about pay between assignment contracts

Pay between assignment contracts

Agency workers – what you need to know

Additional rights for agency workers

Other useful information

There is useful guidance on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website at www.bis.gov.uk and on the TUC website at www.tuc.org.uk.

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