Agency workers are individuals who work through employment agencies under a contract of employment or services. They are usually hired on a temporary basis on flexible terms and conditions to cover short-term absences and are often paid the national minimum wage.
The EU directive and regulations governing this type of employment specifically refers to workers instead of employees, underlining the fact that they do not have the same rights to claim unfair dismissal or redundancy pay. In other words, they have fewer employment rights than permanent staff.
However, in many cases the work carried out by agency workers is of equal value to that done by permanent employees and there is growing pressure to ensure that they are properly protected.