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Can NHS nurses work agency?

  • Date: May 05, 2022
  • Author: Alastair Tulloch
  • Tags: agency nurse,nursing,recruitment,nurse recruitment

​Agency work can be a great income booster as well as bring other benefits to your career. But a question many permanent NHS nurses ask is:

Can I Work Agency Shifts In Other Trusts?

In short - Yes! When you’re working as a substantive NHS nurse, you can legally work as a temporary agency worker in other Trusts.

However, the full picture is a bit more complicated. Working for an agency counts as Secondary Employment, so you’ll need to know your Trust’s policy on Secondary Employment. It might include filling in a Secondary Employment Form or making a written request.

Your manager then needs to assess whether it will conflict with your permanent job or contravene the Working Time Regulations (which state that you can work a maximum of 48 hours a week on average, although you can opt out of this limit if you put it in writing).

Of course, there’s no reason why agency work has to push your weekly workload over 48 hours. You can do as few or as many hours as you like.

So what else do you need to consider if you’re thinking about joining an agency?

Pros And Cons Of Joining A Nursing Agency

The Pros:

Higher pay: simply put, agency work pays better than permanent work.

More control over shifts: you decide when and where you work

More experience: you can try working in different environments and wards, and possibly discover an interest in a new area of nursing.

More variety: working with an agency in different Trusts and environments will enable you to gain experience with a wide variety of people and expand your skills and knowledge.

Faster pay: agency workers get paid weekly, so no more struggles with too much month at the end of your money.

Holiday pay and contributed pension - As an agency worker you receive an additional 12.07% of your agreed hourly rate of pay. You also get a contributed pension from your agency. There are also other perks such as the golden ticket scheme Vetro win, referral bonuses for referring people to agencies and joining bonuses.

More confidence: the wide-ranging experience you’ll gain will make you more confident in your abilities as an agency nurse.

The Cons

Unpredictability: the downside of the flexible schedule for agency nurses is that you’ll have to be prepared for times when there are few shifts for your preferred hours or hospital. However, at the moment there is unprecedented demand for nurses and an abundance of shifts to choose from.

A lot of ‘first days’: You might be placed on different wards on different days, with a new set of ropes to learn every time. However, this variety means you can find the wards/hospitals you like the most and then choose those shifts first.

Taxes: Agency work is taxed as secondary employment, and if you have a permanent income, you’re likely to have reached the personal allowance (tax-free threshold) on that, meaning you’ll be taxed on your whole agency income, probably at the basic rate of 20%. However, you can call HMRC and split your tax allowance between your two jobs, this takes 5 minutes and you can do any % split that you wish, for example, if you work 30 hours with the NHS and 10 hours through an agency you could have a 75% allowance with the NHS and 25% with your agency.

Is Agency Work Worth It?

While we may be biased, we think the pros more than outweigh the cons. If you’re looking for some extra money or a wider variety of experience, we have plenty of well-paid and interesting agency roles for you to choose from. Take a look at our latest nursing jobs here

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