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Do agency workers get paid holiday?

You should receive at least 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave.

In the past, some agencies tried to get round this by saying that your hourly pay rate included holiday pay, and that they therefore did not have to give extra pay if you took a break. However, as a result of a decision by the European Court of Justice, this practice (known as rolled-up pay) is unlawful, and agency workers have a right to receive payment on days they take as holiday.

As an agency worker, your hours and pay may vary considerably over time. If this is the case, your earnings over the most recent 12-week period are divided by the hours worked over the same 12 weeks to give you an average hourly rate – and this is used to determine your holiday pay. If you did not do any work at all in one or more weeks, you simply discount that week and move to the week immediately before it, until you have a total of 12 weeks' work and pay on which to work out your average hourly rate.

Since 1 October 2011, agency workers have had the right to the same holiday entitlement as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer to do the same job. This right applies once the agency worker has completed a 12-week qualifying period.

For example, if the hirer's employees are entitled to 35 days' holiday a year, you will also be entitled to 35 days' leave a year. 

If you work part-time, your leave entitlement can be calculated on a pro rata basis – so if you only work six months rather than a complete year, you will be entitled to half the annual entitlement.

After qualifying for equal treatment you should be treated the same as the hirer's employees when requesting and being permitted to take holidays. You will also be entitled to equal treatment on enhanced pay for working on bank holidays or public holidays, and the right to time off on bank holidays or public holidays.

If you are in doubt about your entitlement, seek further assistance from your union, or an advice agency if you are not a union member.