Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
An introduction to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).
What is EAS?
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) is responsible for seeking compliance with the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (as amended). This legislation requires recruitment agencies to abide by specified minimum standards.
EAS is the state regulator of employment agencies and employment businesses in Great Britain and sits within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
EAS works with recruitment agencies, hirers and work-seekers to ensure compliance with employment rights, particularly for vulnerable agency workers, and that those using private recruitment agencies to find work are treated fairly.
EAS investigates complaints received (usually from workers), acts on intelligence or information received, and carries out proactively targeted inspections.
Recruitment agencies are expected to take prompt action to fully comply with relevant legislation where any breaches are brought to their attention by EAS. EAS may consider taking further enforcement action such as criminal prosecution or prohibiting individuals from running a recruitment agency where serious or continued non-compliance is identified. You can learn more about EAS’ enforcement policy on GOV.UK.
What is an agency?
Agencies are businesses that offer you work with hirers. There are two kinds: employment agencies and employment businesses. These are both commonly known as agencies by the general public. Employment agencies introduce persons to employers, and employment businesses find temporary and contract work.
What laws are agencies governed by?
There are specific laws to protect you when working through an agency. Agencies must operate in accordance with the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.
In addition, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 provide agency workers with additional rights in relation to basic working and employment conditions. But these regulations are not enforced by EAS. You can contact Acas for advice.
Before looking at your rights as an agency worker here are some definitions of words or terms to make it easier to understand. Sometimes the language used when talking about agency work can be confusing.
Agency – a generic term for either an employment agency or an employment business
Booking confirmation – a document provided by the agency when an assignment is offered to you. It may be a text or email but will detail the particulars of the work being offered
Employment agency – a business that finds permanent roles or short-term roles where you are directly engaged by an employer
Employment business – a business that finds temporary or contract roles where you may be engaged by the employment business under the direction and control of their clients
Hirer – the agency’s client that the worker carries out work for
Terms – terms of engagement that must be agreed with a work-seeker before any work-finding services commence. This document is often referred to as a contract
Umbrella company – a payroll company or other intermediary company that would normally charge a fee to process the workers’ wages earned through the agency. The worker often becomes an employee of the umbrella company
Work-seeker – a person looking for work or being found work for
A brief guide to your rights as an agency worker
What employment agencies and businesses must and must not do
Key Information Document
An employment business must provide you with a key information document (KID). KID’s are intended to provide you with number of pay related facts, along with some other details about your engagement, prior to agreeing terms with an employment business. This is so you have more information about your pay at an earlier stage, particularly so that you can see how deductions and fees affect your pay.
Employment businesses do not have to run their own payroll service and may refer you to be paid through an umbrella company. In these cases they should provide a KID that includes additional details such as who will be your employer, who is responsible for paying you, if there is any business connection between the businesses you are engaging with and the deductions that will be taken from the income the umbrella company receives from the employment business before paying you.
Contract or terms
An employment business must agree terms of engagement with you before starting any work-finding services. The terms should include:
- whether you have employee, self-employed or worker status
- the notice period to end an assignment
- the minimum rate of pay you will receive
- any entitlement to paid holidays
Suitability and Identity Checks
An employment agency or business must also check your identification to make sure that you are who you say you are. This will mean seeing any document that provides evidence of your identity, such as a passport, driving licence or birth certificate.
An employment agency or business must also ensure that you are suitable to fill a position before introducing or supplying you to a hirer. This may involve checking your experience and qualifications.
Regarding assignments proposed to you, both employment agencies and businesses must tell you:
- the start date and how long the contract may last
- the identity of the hirer
- the duties you must undertake
- details of any expenses
- the location and your hours of work
- about any health and safety risks
- about any experience, training or qualifications needed for the role
This information may be sent as an email or a text and is often called a booking confirmation or assignment details.
You are entitled to be paid for all hours you have worked. An employment business cannot withhold payments or wages from you for hours that you have worked.
What recruitment agencies must not do!
Employment agencies and businesses must not:
- charge fees to you for providing work-finding services
- force you to purchase any additional services such as training or CV-writing
- tell your current employer you are looking for new work
- stop you from working elsewhere while you are working for them or afterwards
- force you to tell them the identity of any future employer
Charging you fees for goods or services
Employment agencies and businesses cannot charge you a fee for finding you work but they can provide or refer you to other paid services, such as a Disclosure and Barring Service check or an umbrella company. Employment businesses do not have to run their own payroll service and may refer you to be paid through an umbrella company.
If they offer these services, you should receive the following information:
- the name of the person or company any fees are paid to
- a description of the goods or services
- the fee, or information relating to how the fee is calculated
- your right to cancel
- your right to any refunds or rebates
- any notice period you must provide should you wish to cancel – you cannot be forced to provide more than five days’ notice to cancel a service, with the exception of accommodation for which you can be asked to provide 10 days’ notice
Find out more
You can find out more about your rights as an agency worker on the GOV.UK website.
How to contact EAS
Should you feel that an agency is not operating compliantly with the law, you can raise a complaint with EAS using the following contact information:
Telephone: 0207 215 5000
Post: EAS, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET
You can use the contact details above to make a complaint or alternatively you can make a complaint using the online form on the GOV.UK website.
Further information and guidance
More information relating to workers’ rights when working through an agency can be found on the EAS website.
You can also contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) for free advice on employment matters via their website or telephone 0300 123 1100.
Resources for Employment Businesses and Employment Agencies
Guidance for employment agencies, employment businesses and the recruitment sector on the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (as amended) can be found on GOV.UK.
Guidance for employment businesses on providing a “Key Information Document” for agency workers can be found on the GOV.UK website.
EAS regularly hold free to attend, online webinars. The webinars cover common non-compliance issues and looks at how to safeguard your business against these. To reserve your place and see details of upcoming events please follow the link below: