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Your agency stops giving you work
If your agency gives you no more work, what you can do about it depends on whether you are a worker or an employee. You need to know which you are before you read this document. If you're not sure, see Agency workers - what you need to know.
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 therefore need to find out the reason why you're no longer working.
Why are you no longer working
There are some reasons for not being given work that mean you can take action whether you're a worker or an employee. These are:
- discrimination - if so, whose fault is it? You may be able to make a claim against the agency, or the employer, or both
- whistleblowing - this is when you make it known that there are things going on at work that affect your employment rights or that are illegal. If the reason you are no longer working is related to whistleblowing, you may have a claim against the agency or the employer
- you've been unfairly treated and suffered in some way because of this. This is known as suffering a detriment.
If you are unfairly treated and have suffered a detriment
You may feel you have been unfairly treated and have suffered in some way because of this. Unfair treatment could arise from:
- work scheduling and rota setting
- how grievances and disciplinary issues are handled
- taking away your work responsibilities
- carrying out security checks only on certain workers
- making you work in poor conditions.
If you feel you've suffered a detriment, you could make a claim to an employment tribunal. You must make the claim within three months less one day from the date when the thing you're complaining about first happened.
If you are a worker and are given no more work
You're not generally entitled to receive 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 pay between assignments or to be found work. For example, some contracts guarantee a set number of hours' work per year or per month
Do you have a right to pay between assignments?
If you're a worker and you have not been given any more work to do, it is very unlikely you will have a right to pay between assignments. You would only have a right to pay between assignments if you had this kind of contract as it makes you an employee of the agency.
If you are an employee and have been given no more work
If you are an employee and have been dismissed
If you are an employee of the agency, you also need to check whether you have actually been dismissed rather than not given any more work. Other reasons that are actually dismissal could be:
if you've been made redundant, you may be entitled to redundancy pay and should have received the correct notice. If it isn't a genuine redundancy, you could have been unfairly dismissed. You could make a claim against the agency.
Reasons which are automatically unfair
For example, trying to ask for your basic rights at work to be met, or being dismissed because you're pregnant. You would claim against the agency only
Reasons which are not automatically unfair
Reasons which are not automatically unfair include things such your ability to do the job or how you behave at work. If you think you've been unfairly dismissed because of this you would have to claim against the agency only and would have to have worked for them for at least a year if you started before 6 April 2012 or at least two years if you started on or after that date.
If the employer has put pressure on the agency to stop giving you work
If you are an employee of the agency and the agency dismisses you because of pressure from an employer, this may be a fair reason for dismissal depending on the circumstances.
However, the agency must act reasonably when dismissing you. They can do this by trying to persuade the employer to change their mind, or trying to find you alternative work.
If you want to take your complaint further, see Dealing with grievances at work
You can get also get help to take your complaint further from an experienced CAB adviser. Find your nearest CAB.