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Using labour hire agencies

You may use a labour hire agency, also known as a temp agency, to staff your business.

This means that:

  • the labour hire agency is their employer
  • you are a client of the labour hire agency.

Labour hire agencies will not directly supervise the staff or control your workplace.  However, they are still responsible for the staff they provide to you and may occasionally monitor your workplace.

Both you and the labour hire agency are responsible for safety in the workplace and for making sure it is discrimination and harassment-free.  You can both be held responsible if discrimination or harassment happens.


A recruitment agency found a woman a job at a doctor's surgery.  She informed the agency she was being sexually harassed so they found her another job elsewhere.  However, the agency had kept a secret file about harassment problems raised by other staff that had been placed with the same employer.  Both the doctor's surgery and agency were liable.

It is also unlawful for a business that is hiring staff from a labour hire company to ask the labour hire company to discriminate in choosing the staff that it sends. This refers to discrimination on the ground of race, sex, age, disability, sexuality, pregnancy, caring responsibilities, marital status, identity of spouse, religious dress or chosen gender. For example, a business cannot tell a temping agency that it does not want the agency to send over any secretarial staff who have small children.

However, the business can take disability into account if it would not be possible for the person to do the job, even if reasonable assistance or equipment were made available.

The business can also take religious dress into account if the dress would create a safety hazard in this job.

Related information

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