On any given day there are 1.2 million people working via a recruitment agency on a contract or temporary assignment.

Temporary workers are vital to many companies and despite the economic outlook and political uncertainty employers still need new staff. In fact, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s latest Report on Jobs anticipates demand for temporary agency workers will continue to rise.

Whether you are looking to fill a short-term need urgently or require an agency worker who may become a permanent member of staff under a temp to perm arrangement, using a recruitment agency should be an efficient way of hiring temporary staff.

Whatever your reason for hiring it's important that you find an agency that works well for your business and gives you peace of mind that the best recruitment practice is adopted.

As part of your agency due diligence, we'd recommend asking these questions:

What’s your process for selecting the candidates?

The process may vary depending on the nature of the work the agency worker will be undertaking. You may need temp cover at short notice, or perhaps you have a specific longer term project that requires niche skills beyond those currently in your business.

Irrespective of your circumstances you should expect the agency to explain:

  • The methods used to source candidates.
  • How relevant candidates are identified for your specific role. Expect your recruiter to talk with you about skills matching, relevant experience, behaviours, and attitude. You should gain reassurance that the agency really knows the background of the candidate having undertaken, as a minimum, candidate interviews and reference checking.
  • The number of short-listed candidate CVs you should expect to receive.
  • How interviews between you and the candidate are arranged.
  • A timeframe for completing your recruitment.

Have you placed candidates in a similar role?

By gaining information on the agency's track record, you'll understand how suitable they are to manage your recruitment. Gaining specific examples will also give you the chance to follow up for recommendations – we all take confidence from another person's good experience.

Do I have to worry about pension payments?

No, you don’t. Another common reason for engaging an agency is so you don't have to worry about how the temporary worker is paid – you just have to ensure their agency time sheet is approved.

Your agency recruiter will take care of all legal obligations including payment, holiday accrual, pension auto enrolment, and working time and agency worker regulations administration.

What are your service charges?

Perhaps we should have made this question number 1 because it’s probably at the top of your fact-finding list.

Agency workers are paid for their time based on an hourly rate so it’s important to confirm the number of hours they’ll work for you each week. For guidance, your agency recruiter will advise the market rate for the role you want to fill. Agreeing this rate is important as it contributes to the short-listing process after all, there’s no point discussing your assignments with candidates who have been very clear that their rate is beyond your budget.

In addition to the agreed hourly rate the agency must take into consideration a range of statutory costs such as national insurance, pension, and holiday pay as well as its business margin for providing the temp services. This is the reason why the rate you pay is always higher than the rate of pay the agency worker receives.

Are you a member of a professional organisation?

This verifies the agency's credibility. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) is the largest professional body for UK recruitment, representing an industry now worth £38 billion to the UK economy. Every REC member must complete a compliance test – it shows you’re really doing your homework to ask about the agency’s compliance score.