Agency and Temporary Staff

A complete business guide on temporary employment, from choosing agencies and managing contracts to integrating staff and handling dismissals lawfully.

Temporary Employees

Employing temporary staff, often referred to as on-hire employees, can bring a range of benefits to your business, while also introducing certain responsibilities and considerations. Temporary workers can provide flexibility, fill gaps during peak periods, or bring in specialised skills for short-term projects. However, as an employer, it's crucial to understand and fulfil your obligations towards these workers.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, temporary staff are entitled to the same minimum employment rights as your permanent staff. This includes adherence to the same work, health, and safety laws, ensuring that your workplace is safe and conducive for all employees, whether they are temporary or permanent.

Temporary staff are also protected by the National Employment Standards (NES) and are entitled to the benefits of the specific Modern Award under which they are covered. It's important to note that if the recruitment agency providing the temporary staff has its own enterprise agreement, this agreement may supersede some or all provisions of the Modern Award within your business context.

As a business owner, it's important to stay informed about the employment standards and rights applicable to temporary staff. This ensures not only compliance with legal requirements but also contributes to a fair and positive working environment for all your employees. Employment Compass can assist in navigating these aspects of employing temporary or agency staff, ensuring that your business meets its obligations while benefiting from the flexibility that temporary employees offer. For further information and support, reach out to Employment Compass' advisors.

Approaching Employment Agencies

Approaching employment agencies for recruiting can be a strategic move for your business, especially when you need to fill roles quickly or require specialised skills. The choice of the right agency is crucial in ensuring that you find the best fit for your needs.

There are broadly two types of recruitment agencies. Generalist agencies offer a wide array of candidates across various industries and job roles. On the other hand, specialist agencies focus on specific industries or fields, providing candidates with a particular set of skills and expertise. While specialist agencies might charge higher fees, they offer access to a more targeted pool of candidates, which can be invaluable when looking for specific skill sets.

Why consider an employment agency? There are several reasons why businesses turn to these agencies:

  • Common motivations include the need to quickly fill a vacancy, particularly one that arises unexpectedly,
  • Managing increased demand during special events like seasonal peaks or surges in projects, and
  • Finding candidates with specialist skills that are currently unavailable within the company.

When you approach an agency, it's essential to be clear about the type of candidate you're looking for. Provide details such as the role, job title, specific skills and experience required, and the desired start date. This clarity helps the agency to effectively search their pool of candidates and present you with the most suitable options.

Using an employment agency can save time and resources in the recruitment process, ensuring that your business continues to operate efficiently and effectively. By partnering with the right agency, you can gain access to a broad range of talent, tailored to meet the specific needs of your business.

Employment Agency Agreements

When you hire temporary staff through an agency, it's important to understand the contractual arrangements involved. There are typically two separate contracts: one between your business and the recruitment agency, and another between the agency and the temporary staff. Your primary focus will be on the contract between your business and the agency.

This agreement with the agency details various terms and conditions, outlining the responsibilities of both parties. While each agreement can vary, common provisions include:

  1. Calculation of Fees: Agency fees can be structured in different ways. Some agencies might charge a fixed fee, while others might operate on a commission basis. The agreement should specify the fee structure and explain how the total fee is calculated.
  2. Recruitment Services: The contract should clearly outline the services provided by the agency. These services could range from screening candidates and conducting interviews to checking references and providing training.
  3. Replacement Guarantee: Some recruitment agencies offer a replacement guarantee. This means that if the initially placed candidate leaves prematurely or is deemed unsuitable, the agency commits to finding a replacement within a specified timeframe.
  4. Payroll Services: The agreement should specify the wage that the agency will pay the on-hire employee. Typically, the agency is responsible for handling superannuation contributions and payroll tax. However, if you decide to enter into a separate employment contract directly with the temporary staff, then your business becomes responsible for these payroll obligations.

Understanding these contractual aspects is vital to ensure a smooth and legally compliant process when engaging temporary staff through an agency. Clear communication with the recruitment agency about these terms can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that both parties' expectations are met.

Benefits of Temporary Employment Agencies

Using temporary employment agencies offers several benefits for businesses, with flexibility being a standout advantage. This flexibility allows businesses of all sizes and across various industries to tailor temporary employment to their specific needs. Beyond just cost savings, here are some key advantages of hiring temporary staff:

  1. Minimising Downtime: Temporary employees can quickly fill vacant positions, reducing the downtime and disruption that vacancies can cause. This ensures that business operations continue smoothly without significant pauses or delays.
  2. Easing Workload on Permanent Staff: During peak periods or busy seasons, temporary staff can help distribute the workload more evenly. This approach prevents burnout among permanent employees and maintains productivity levels without overburdening your core team.
  3. Handling Increased Workloads: Temporary employees enable businesses to take on more work and meet additional project deadlines. They provide the extra hands needed when there's a spike in demand or when tackling large-scale projects.
  4. Providing Specialised Skills: When your business requires specialised skills that your current staff don't possess, temporary staff can fill this gap. They bring in expertise for specific tasks or projects, ensuring high-quality outcomes without the need for permanent hires.

Training Temporary Staff

Training temporary staff is an essential aspect of ensuring they integrate smoothly into your business. Even if they possess the technical skills required for the job, they may not be familiar with the specific ways your business operates. Similarly, your permanent staff may not be acquainted with the new temporary workers. This lack of familiarity can lead to health and safety concerns, as well as inefficiencies in work processes.

To address this, it’s important to develop an effective employee training plan for your temporary staff. This plan should include a thorough orientation on your workplace policies, procedures, and culture. Communicating these aspects clearly helps temporary employees understand their role and responsibilities within your business.

Additionally, informing your permanent staff about the arrival of temporary workers is crucial. This heads-up allows your permanent team to prepare for new dynamics in the workplace and assists in fostering a welcoming environment.

In some cases, extra onsite training and support might be necessary, especially if the temporary role involves specific tasks or equipment unique to your business. Providing this additional training ensures that the temporary employee can perform their role safely and effectively.

Remember, investing time in training temporary staff can lead to more productive outcomes and a safer working environment. It helps bridge any gaps between temporary and permanent employees, leading to a more cohesive and efficient team.

Workplace Culture and Diversity

Your workplace culture is essentially the personality of your business. It's shaped by many different things like what your business values, believes in, and how people in your business usually behave and interact with each other.

Understanding and defining this culture is really important before you bring in a temporary employee. Knowing your culture helps you find someone who's not only good at the job but also fits in well with your team and how you do things in your business.

It's just as important to make sure everyone, including temporary staff, is treated fairly and respectfully in your workplace. Watch out for any unfair treatment, bullying, or discrimination against temporary workers. If something like this does happen, it’s crucial to handle it the right way, treating everyone equally and following the proper steps.

Having a clear understanding of your workplace culture and maintaining a fair and respectful environment can make a big difference. It helps make sure everyone, whether they’re with you for a short time or a long time, can work well together and contribute positively to your business.

Ending Employment

When employing temporary or on-hire employees, the process of dismissal needs careful consideration. Generally, if you're not satisfied with a temporary employee's behaviour, performance, or conduct, you must provide reasonable notice before legally dismissing them. However, it's crucial to first review any existing agreements to understand your rights and obligations.

Before proceeding with any dismissal, ensure that you're fully aware of the terms and conditions set out in the temporary workplace agreement. This understanding is vital to avoid any legal complications. It's important to thoroughly understand every aspect of the agreement, and if there's anything that's not clear, seek clarification. This way, you can be sure about what the agreement entails for your business.

If you have any uncertainties about employing agency or temporary staff, especially considering dismissal procedures, Employment Compass can offer guidance. Our expertise can help ensure that you handle such situations correctly, providing peace of mind. For assistance, you can reach out to Employment Compass' 24-hour Employer Helpline at 1300 144 002.

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