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Taking action in higher education

Supporting equal treatment for temporary and agency workers

8 February 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has joined the TUC by calling on the UK government to support a bill giving agency workers legal equal treatment rights at work, and save temporary workers from discrimination and ill-treatment by rogue employment agencies.

The crucial second reading in the House of Commons of Andrew Miller MP's private member's bill, will take place on Friday 22 February and UCU members are urged to email their member of parliament to ask them to be there to support it.

The use of agency staff in further education is widespread. Many colleges use them only for genuine short term un-predictable staff cover for sickness, but some colleges actually employ more than 50% of their staff through agencies. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of dedicated agency employed lecturers, when classes have several different lecturers in a term, the quality of provision suffers.

Agency lecturers are almost always on inferior terms and conditions to directly employed staff and rarely have access to progression through the pay spine. Lower hourly pay, less preparation time and less holidays are the norm for agency lecturers. The inferior conditions endured by agency lecturers also undermine hard won conditions for directly employed staff.