Employment Agency Q & A: Can Recruiting Agency Prevent Client From Hiring the Temporary Worker?

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Temporary employment agencies, or staffing agencies, can benefit both companies and workers. For temporary workers, a staffing agency can let them try a few jobs to see what they enjoy or help them make ends meet while searching for more permanent employment.

For employers, temporary workers are a great solution to perform work for someone on medical leave or to help with a large project, or temporary help during a busy season.

Sometimes, the client, or company hiring workers from a staffing agency, is so pleased with the temp worker that they wish to hire them as a new employee. But, be careful if you're a temp worker or an employer. Here's what you need to know about hiring temporary help from a recruiting agency.

Temporary Staffing Agencies

Temp employers contract with clients (companies) to provide qualified workers to fill certain roles. The Canadian Employment Standards Act (ESA) defines the duties of temporary employment agencies as employing workers to assign the workers to work on a contract or temporary basis with the agency's clients. Workers sign with the employment agency and are placed with the agency's clients according to their skills and availability. 

The Employer-Employee Relationship With a Temporary Staffing Agency

In Canada, employees of temporary employment agencies are considered assignment employees. The temporary agency is your employer, and your work assignments are to complete temporary work for the clients of the staffing agency.

The agency's clients are not your employer, although you will be expected to follow the company policies like the other employees.

Your work assignment with a client begins the first day you begin your duties there and ends when either the work is complete, or the client ends the assignment. Regardless of which client you are working with, you are still an employee of the temp agency.

You are an employee of the agency even between temporary help assignments; your employment with the agency doesn't end when the assignment ends, although you may quit the agency at any time.

You are paid through the temp agency, and both it and the client you're working for are responsible for keeping track of your hours worked since most temp workers are paid an hourly wage.

Workers' Rights For Temp Agency Employees

As a temporary or contract worker, it's important to know your rights and understand your obligations to protect yourself and ensure that you don't get into any conflict of interest hot water. Temp agency employees have the same rights under the ESA as any other Canadian employee.

However, the ESA sets specific rules for temporary employment agencies and their employees and clients. Temp agencies are forbidden from doing a few things, like:

  • Charge an employee fee to become an employee of the agency or to receive assignments
  • Charging their employees for resume assistance or help to prepare for job interviews
  • Impede temp employees from accepting an employment offer from a client by refusing to provide references
  • Ask for a prospective employee's SIN, date of birth, or country of origin on the job application

Temp agency employees are also covered by many of the same legal protections as permanent employees in Canada, including the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and Employment Insurance.

Final Thoughts For Temporary Workers in Canada

So, to answer the question of "can a recruiting agency prevent clients from hiring temporary workers?," the answer is no. 

If both the contract employee and the temp agency's client wish to continue their employment relationship, the temp agency cannot prevent a client from offering them a permanent position. Employers who find a great contract worker from recruitment agencies are within their rights to hire the worker as their own employee, but often, the agency employee may have to quit the temp agency.

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