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If your agency stops giving you work or treats you unfairly

This advice applies to England

If your agency treats you unfairly or stops giving you work, what you can do about it depends on whether you're a 'worker' or an 'employee'. Check your contract - you’re a worker unless your contract says you’re an employee.

Sometimes you can take action if you're given no work whether you're a worker or an employee. In other cases, you may only be able to take action if you're an employee. You need to find out why you're no longer working.

Why you're no longer working

There are some unlawful reasons for not being given work that mean you can take action whether you're a worker or an employee. These can include:

  • you’ve doing the job for 12 weeks and you’re exercising your right to time off for ante-natal appointments or adoption care
  • being - or not being - a member of a trade union
  • being put on a list of people not to employ
  • you asking or complaining about certain legal rights, for example the right to paid holiday

Other forms of unfair treatment

You may also feel you’ve been treated unfairly or suffered in some other way. You could be treated unfairly:

  • in the way work is scheduled or rotas set
  • in the way grievances and disciplinary issues are handled
  • if your work responsibilities are taken away
  • if security checks are only made on certain workers
  • if you're made to work in poor conditions

If you’ve been treated unfairly or not given any work, you might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. You should talk to an adviser first. If you want to make a tribunal claim, you must do so within 3 months less one day from when the thing you're complaining about first happened.

If you're a worker and you're not given any more work

You're not generally guaranteed work from an agency. If your agency has stopped giving you work and you want to take action, you also need to check if you have a right to be found work. For example, some contracts guarantee a set number of hours' work a year or a month.

If you're an employee and you're not given any more work

You need to check if your employment contract guarantees any minimum hours. If your agency has told you they’ve ended your contract, this means you’ve been dismissed. You should ask them why you’ve been dismissed if you’re not sure. 

If you think you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. 

You can only make some claims if you have been employed by the agency for 2 years or more. For other claims it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been employed. 

Check if you were dismissed for a fair reason

You might have been dismissed for a fair reason. Possible fair reasons for dismissal include:

  • the organisation where you do your work for has put pressure on your agency to stop giving you work 

  • redundancy - you can check if your redundancy is fair 

  • your behaviour at work or because you can’t do the job properly

If you’ve been dismissed for a fair reason, you might be able to challenge your dismissal if both the following apply:

  • you’ve been employed by the agency for at least 2 years

  • they didn’t follow a fair procedure

Check if you can challenge your dismissal.

Check if your dismissal is automatically unfair

There are other reasons which are automatically unfair, for example:

  • unlawful discrimination

  • whistleblowing

  • because you’re trying to enforce your legal rights at work

You don’t need to have worked for at least 2 years to claim automatic unfair dismissal. You can read more about dismissals which are automatically unfair.

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