Q&A - Can Employment Agency withhold wages because manager did not sign my timesheet?

Q: I have been temping through an agency since finishing Uni last summer. In the run-up to Christmas the firm I was working at was super busy and I put in a lot of extra hours in the last week. When I asked the manager to sign my timesheet, however, he refused. He said it shouldn’t and couldn’t have taken me as long as I made out it had to do the job and that I was late starting. As a result of this the agency withheld payment of my wages completely. Can they legally do this?

A: On the facts provided, the agency’s failure to pay wages is a breach of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003. You are entitled to payment for the hours claimed and as your contract is with the agency, not the end client, the agency is responsible for making payment to you.

If there is a dispute regarding the hours worked the agency should investigate to ensure that the hours have been properly worked but this in itself is not a lawful ground for them to withhold payment from you. The agency could check the hours worked by speaking to other workers for example or requesting work records from the end client.

As to the allegation that you were late starting, the agency is still legally bound to pay you for the hours worked and cannot penalise you by withholding payment or paying a lower rate. The allegation could potentially lead to disciplinary action against you however and you may benefit from dropping into one of our free clinics and having a more in depth discussion with one of our employment law specialists, see details below.

(Article published 13/02/2017)  

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham