Jargon Buster: Understanding the Terminology of the Temp World

Jargon Buster: Understanding the Terminology of the Temp World

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If you’re new to the temporary recruitment market, terms like ‘Swedish Derogation’ may sound more like something you hear used in Law & Order, rather than a phrase you should actually be aware of in your working life. Yet it can really make a difference to know your jargon. It affects your pay, after all, and it puts you in a better position to negotiate your contract, if ever you have to.

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common contractual terminology used in temporary recruitment.


This one is just a warm up. Pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) is an employment contract between an employee and employer whereby the employer makes deductions for income tax and employees national insurance payable by the worker. The employee is then paid the balance, or their net payment.


If a worker is available, but their agency has no suitable assignment for them, the worker could get paid by the recruitment agency anyway. This process is called Pay Between Assignments (PBA).Depending on how long the worker has been working for the agency, the pay is calculated based on the highest number of hours worked in the preceding 12 weeks, or the highest number of hours worked in a week leading up to period of PBA. 

Swedish Derogation

Swedish Derogation is an arrangement that allows a recruitment agency to employ a temporary worker on a contract that doesn’t comply with all of the provisions set out in the Agency Workers Regulations. Normally, a temporary worker would have a right to equal pay when they’ve completed 12 weeks of work in the same role and within the same company. In return for waiving this right, the employer under a contract with Swedish Derogation would receive PBA instead. It’s important to understand that agreeing to such an arrangement doesn’t change any of your other workplace rights.

Zero Hours

Zero Hours, or casual contracts, allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work. This means employees only work when they are needed, often at short notice. Employees’ pay solely depends on how often they work.  Although companies are obliged to pay holiday pay, statutory sick pay is often not included.  Some contracts make it obligatory for workers to take the shifts they are offered. Zero Hours Contracts have received a lot of bad press, mostly because they expect exclusivity from the workers while they receive no rights in return.

Fixed Term Contract

A fixed term contract is a contractbetween an employer and an employee for a fixed period of time.  The contract will terminate on expiry, or when a specific task has been completed. Workers on fixed term contracts shouldn’t be treated any differently to permanent employees. They should receive the same pay, conditions and benefits as permanent staff. Employees on fixed term contracts should also be given updated information about permanent vacancies within the organisation and be protected against redundancy or dismissal.

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Happy job hunting!