Care providers will turn to an agency if they are short-staffed or cannot recruit people with the required qualifications and competencies to carry out specific roles. Regulators accept the necessity for employing agency workers, but recommend that they should be used as contingencies and should not depend on agencies to meet their normal staffing requirements.

Employment agencies supplying care staff have played an important role in helping to meet staff shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic. The downside appears to have been that the peripatetic nature of agency work might have increased the risk of increased viral transmission in care homes, which suggests that care providers must exercise great care in their employment and deployment of agency staff.

This view is independent of the costs that would be incurred and based on the importance of ensuring that there is continuity of care, which cannot be provided by over-reliance on temporary workers, who may change because, for example, an agency might need to deploy them elsewhere.

After 11 November 2021, agency workers over 18 years old employed in care homes in England, like permanent staff, must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 unless medically exempt. Both the agency and the care home must ensure that staff deployed from agency to care home meet this requirement.

This topic looks at the law relating to the employment of temporary staff in care services and how employers should manage relationships with agencies and temporary staff. It also covers the rights of temporary workers under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.

There are other topics that deal with the role of agency workers in work settings and the employment law issues that must be addressed. See:

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