The Law on Employment Agencies

Employment agencies must comply with the minimum standards of conduct set by the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and regulations.

If you are a worker:

  • An agency must not charge for finding or trying to find you work (with some exceptions, mainly in entertainment and modelling)
  • An agency employing you to do temporary work must give you written terms, and must pay you, even if it has not been paid
  • An agency which collects your pay from an employer must pass it to you within ten days, unless you request otherwise. Normally this only applies to entertainment and modelling.

If you are a hirer:

  • An agency should check workers have any qualifications required by law
  • An agency should obtain enough information to show a worker is suitable for the job.

Other standards include:

  • Advertisements placed by an agency must state that fact
  • Requirements about what must and must not be included in written terms.

Under the Act, persons running an employment agency can be banned from doing so for up to ten years, for misconduct or other reasons. An agency breaking the law can also be fined up to £5,000.

This document shows only some of the regulations governing the agencies. If you would like to know more, please call the helpline or read Employment Agencies Act 1973: Guidance on the Act and regulations.

You can also write, or email us:

Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (4140)
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET

Helpline: 0845 955 5105

International: +44 20 7215 5980

Fax: 020 7215 2636

E-mail: eas@dti.gsi.gov.uk for enquiries about Employment Agencies only.

For enquiries about other employment rights, please contact ACAS.

The Employment Agencies Act is there to protect all users of employment agencies – workers, employers and hirers.

If you feel you have been unfairly treated by an agency, or if you want advice, call our helpline.

Our inspectors investigate public complaints about agency conduct and will take action against an agency if necessary.

If you make a complaint to us we will investigate fully and in confidence if you request. We will tell you about our progress and results.