Agency or contact

Hi guys i could be jumping the gun here but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
I’m currently working with a agency for one of the UKs largest supermarket chains working out a CDC distributing to all their stores.
I’ve been with the agency since early December and up to now I’ve pretty much always got a shift maybe 2 or 3 days that i haven’t received any, i only work 4 days pick days that’s suitable to me and make myself available every 2nd weekend to work.
I’m comfortable just now plodding on like this but I’m not daft it’s agency work and the work could dry up tomorrow it’s also great knowing i can take time off whenever i chose i haven’t actually took a break yet was waiting until summer(how do agencies act when you take time off?) But anyway i may be about to be offered a full time contract with company i drive for which means going back to 5 days weekends on refusal of holidays etc etc but also it comes with benefits which i can’t ignore.
Everyone is different but what would you do continue with agency or go full time.

What are your commitments, responsibilities and dependants?

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I would go full-time personally. While being with the agency may be okay, you would be more likely to have to accept varying start times if you want the shifts. Additionally, hours are not guaranteed and depending on the contract the guarantee for the day could be as low as four hours, which I have experienced. January is notoriously slow on agency, so you would be taking holiday most likely, whereas a full-time driver would be in 5 days.

What are the benefits? Going from 4 days you pick and choose to 5 days that they tell you you’re working is a big difference.

Married with one dependent but no mortgage it’s paid off.
I guess i do want my cake and to eat it im comfortable just now not being tied down to company hours but am i kidding myself on this is my first time working with an agency can i expect the work to dry up will the agency get fed up with me only doing 4 days because here’s another driver willing to work more? or are there drivers out there that do only agency work year after year with same company.

Guaranteed 8 hours with paid breaks.

My personal opinion, given your information, is that you should stay as you are. I don’t believe the agency for Tesco (say) is going to drop you for someone else. You have shown consistency for 4 months, that is quite something! The longer it goes on, I hope the more secure you feel. You don’t earn much employment rights in a full time contract for the first 2 years, so while it may not regularly happen, they could let you go without much difficulty or compensation.
The well known longtime agency only posters on here include @conor and @goff118 if you want to read their experience that they’ve posted.

This is based on mortgage paid off, you have 2-3 months worth of expenditure in savings, you live in an area that driving jobs are advertised that you could walk into. You’ve already experienced the lean times of January, so enjoy your current flexibility.


As mentioned, I recently made the switch from full time employment in an office (5 days a week) to driving for a supermarket via agency. I was lucky to get an assessment with those back in March 2022 a few weeks after passing my test, and I’ve had consistent work with them since. It is around a 45 minute commute each way.

I am probably in a less secure position than you, as I have a mortgage and a 2 year old, but with around 6 months of earnings saved up, and a growing confidence in being able to do the job to a competent standard, I quit my full time job at the end of 2023 with the aim of working 3/4 days a week and spending more time with our 2 year old (saving 40% of our childcare costs).

So far so good, and even with a quiet January, I have managed to pick up enough shifts to pay the bills, as well as adding to my savings each month. The extra time with my son has already made it worth the switch. I am also getting some shift offers from a 2nd agency that I have done one shift for, so they must be getting busier also which is good as a backup.

I am still signed up for Indeed updates for full time driving jobs in the South Wales area but so far there has been nothing that compares to the pay and flexibility I’m currently getting.

My hope is that I can keep it going at least until our son starts school next year, when I add a day on agency, or get a full-time job closer to home.

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my two pennies worth is it depends on the agency and the company. If the agency is a good one that understands drivers hours etc then in the lean times they will work with you and share out the work that is available. Supermarket work is one of the stable ones they always need deliveries because people have to eat. I have predominantly done agency work all my working life both before and after getting my licenses. Since driving I have had to bad situations that were made 100 times worse by the company i was driving for. The first one i had worked for them for 9 months but the agency i worked for went to bat for me and told them to stop playing silly beggars. The last one was recently and neither the agency or the company gave a monkeys. I have since told the agency to send me my p45 yet they are still texting me asking if i can work on such and such a day. All this to say it depends on the agency.

With a contracted job it may be 5 out of 7 which means you could work 11 days with only 1 day off providing they don’t swap shifts/ start times. There was a driver here that was supposed to be on a 4 on 3 off i think it was he ended up one week doing 8 shifts with only 1 day off. As said you are tied to the companies whims and may well find that you loose your overtime rate as another game they like to play is work you like a dog for the first 3 days then on the last couple only give you the minimum hours so your weekly average is below the threshold for overtime.

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It’s a tough one I’m silently hoping they don’t offer me the job to take the choice away from me.
I’ve worked non stop for 24 years before starting with the agency and i never enjoyed being tied down to working around the companies needs i actually quit my first HGV job after 14 months because i got fed up finishing at Friday lunchtime then boom before you know it was 4am Monday morning, i suppose if i do turn down the full time offer and the agency work dries up i learn and move on there’s other jobs.

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That is what it is now, which is most likely an agreement that can be altered at any time. The paid breaks will be on parity because of the Agency Worker Regulations 2010, but the same hours as full-timers was never part of that legislation.

Aren’t you forgetting someone @stu675 ? :smile:

@darrenfraser Do you want more leave than a full time job would give you? It sounds like you are liking the flexibility. I also get all my work through an agency and I do it because I want to be unavailable for 9-11 weeks per year. That is equivalent to working a 4 day week throughout the year, although when I work, I work 5 days. I’ve been with them almost 2 years.

You asked how agencies are when you take time off - I just give mine my unavailability as far in advance as I can and tell them whether I want to take paid holiday or unpaid. I am usually offered work in a week by week basis and I have noticed that the week before and the week after my leave can be a bit thinner than I would like but then I’m back to being offered 5 days.

I have just come to the end of a long booking with one client, so the best of both worlds - regular and secure in terms of work and income. I’m on holiday now but when I get back I have no idea what I’ll be doing or where my money is coming from, although I know I’ll get offered something.

I constantly vacillate between agency and contract but I’m still with the agency. The only contract that might work for me is 4on 4off, but - weekends - I don’t work them at the moment and that would be a big change for me as as well as 4 days on 4 days off you also work 4 weekends on 4 weekends off.

Perhaps you will always be doing this too - constantly weighing up which cons are worth which pros etc. Perhaps I could live with the weekend work, the only way I’ll know is to try it I think.

What are the benefits you can’t ignore? It’s true that on agency you get absolutely no frills. I was surprised to even get a Christmas card!

Depending on those benefits I’d be inclined to stay where you are, and agree with what stu and goff said regarding having already got through the lean part of the year.

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Cheers for reply, Yep i would want more time off than the average 30 days a year just now i get paid extra hourly rate because they give me my holiday pay as a lump sum every week since ive started with them I’ve probably put aside well over a grand so when i take time off I’ve already been paid up front for it, I’ve actually down the years took plenty of unpaid parental leave just for time off put simply i work to live i don’t live to work chasing money has never been my goal though clearing over 630 quid a week for 40 odd hours over 4 days is good enough for me.
Pension ive 2 small defered ones and no mortgage and ive a good years worth of wages in savings with no debt.
Im comfy but I was brought up believing agency work nope don’t do it but im actually starting to see a good few of the trucks on the road are driven by agency drivers.
If offered job i can only be honest with them and say 5 days just isn’t for me would you be willing to take me on just working the 4 days.

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Three things

  1. i thought about this last night and was going to ask if this is the case but any direct job wont do that so you will have less money each week in your pocket. fine if you are religiously putting the exact amount aside for your holiday but if your not going on a contract will mean less money.

  2. It is against the rules for them to do that im sure someone will provide the appropriate link.

  3. Have a very hard look at your wage slip make sure you aren’t being charged the employers ni contribution or for being paid. The other word of caution is go check your HMRC account and make sure what your paid has been declared correctly. I know several people that have been landed with a tax bill in the 1000’s. Its no good saying well i was paid by so and so because they will be long gone.

I worked for a national agency that used one of these dodgy payrole companies and it has been a nightmare to sort out in fact its still on going 3 months later and to be honest im worried im going to end up with an argument with hmrc

you will also find that the name of the payrole company will change every coule of months for all sorts of silly excuses. Best one i heard was they had a virus that died out in the 90’s so had to change to their sister company so they could pay people. however that virus must of lasted 2 months because we had to change again 2 months later. This might seem like it doesn’t matter but it will affect your credit report for things like getting a mortgage and if you ever do decide there is a brilliant job you want to go for that’s contracted it will look like to the tweeny on the hr desk that you have changed jobs every 2 months

It is all changing again…
But “rolled up” holiday pay is not always legal.

Here is my wage slip i check Hmrc account everyweek ro make sure numbers add up, if you see something wrong please say.

im not an accountant so wouldnt be comfortable giving you advise further than my own experiences. In the past i have used a salary calculator to check the right amount of tax and ni has been deducted

If however you are checking HMRC and the amounts marry up to your wage slip then i would say you have done all you can do. My experience was they took 6 weeks to report they were even paying me. Then the amount i earnt was wrong and then the tax deductions were wrong.

When weighing it up, possible things to ask would be:

  1. What percentage contribution gets matched in the pension scheme. Often this is more than what is required by law. Under auto-enrolment, the employer only has to contribute 3%, but some company schemes will match further than this. If you earn say £40,000 and you are losing another 3% (say), that is £1200 per year.
  2. How many days holiday you get and how this increases with service. Although technically this should be matched if you stay at the same client, but often it may not be.

In fact, I can see that you are currently getting rolled up holiday pay equivalent to the statutory holiday entitlement. If you are being treated as qualified under the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 you would be entitled to more than that if someone employed directly is entitled to more than the statutory. It is possible that the agency are charging out to the client the appropriate amount but not passing it on to you. As time goes by, if you stay at the company, the deficit would be more and more (assuming there is an increase in holiday entitlement with service). If your daily pay is say £200, losing out on 5 days is a grand before tax.

How wise is it to ask a bunch of random people on the internet to make your decisions for you? Whichever you decide to do, there will be times you will wish you’d chosen the other option, and at that point you will resent the “advice” you were given.
There isn’t any “right answer”.

You ought to find out why you are emergency tax, W1/M1 are emergency tax codes.