Recruiting & Interviewing

Where and how to find staff – Employment Agencies

If you decide to use an agency:

  • agree fees and terms before you appoint an agency
  • find out if the cost of any advertising is included in the fee
  • be clear whether you want to recruit a permanent employee or whether you want the agency to supply a temporary worker – possibly on a continuing basis
  • establish the length of the hire period and the fee to be paid should you wish to take the temporary worker on during the hire as staff on a permanent basis
  • check the contract has an option for a specified hire period as an alternative to paying a fee. Agree the length of that period.

Agencies have databases of candidates and can advertise on your behalf. If you do not appoint any of the candidates, you do not usually have to pay a fee.
What to tell the agency

  • The name of your organisation and, if applicable, the nature of your business.
  • Date the work to commence and its duration or likely duration.
  • The position – including the type of work the successful candidate is expected to carry out.
  • The location and terms and conditions of the job, including hours of work.
  • Any risks to health and safety known to you and the steps you have taken to prevent or control such risks.
  • Experience, training, qualifications and any authorisation needed or which are required by law or by any professional body, which the successful candidate should have.
  • Any expenses payable by or to the prospective worker.
  • Length of notice the worker would be required to give, and entitled to receive, to terminate the employment.
  • How you want to select candidates.
  • Whether your company’s name should be used in advertisements or divulged in the early phases of the recruitment process.

Advantages of using employment agencies

  • Saves time – no sifting through applications.
  • You can sometimes try someone out as a temporary worker before employing them. If you plan later to offer the agency worker a permanent job, you should establish the terms for this transfer with the agency in advance of taking on the worker as a temp. The temp-to-perm transfer fee may be as high as the introduction fee.
  • If you do not employ the worker on a permanent basis until eight weeks after the end of the temporary work assignment or 14 weeks from the start of that assignment, whichever is the later, no fee would be payable.
  • If you recruit someone as a temp rather than your own employee, the agency will pay the worker, take care of PAYE and National Insurance issues – see our guide on how to operate a year-round PAYE system.
  • If someone the agency provides proves unsuitable, it will often give a rebate or provide another candidate.
  • You can preserve anonymity when recruiting for sensitive jobs.

Disadvantages of using employment agencies

  • You can lose time if they are not able to find a suitable candidate.
  • They can be expensive. You may have to pay them up to 30 per cent of the employee’s annual salary (or an equivalent rate for temps).
  • They may nevertheless be regarded as your employees as the status of temporary or agency workers depends on the particular employment circumstances. For example, if an agency worker works for you on an ongoing basis that is obviously not temporary, casual or intermittent, a tribunal could find that there is an implied contract of employment in place.

How to complain about an agency

To complain about the conduct of an employment agency, see the Employment Agency Standards page of the DTI website or call the Action Line on Tel 0845 955 5105.

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