Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy has announced that agency workers within the Civil Service will soon benefit from parity of pay and annual leave.
Currently agency workers are entitled to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly after 12 weeks of working for the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS).
This is to end in December and a tender has been put out for a new contract for a supplier of staff.
The finance minister's new initiative means they will have the same pay and annual leave as permanent staff the moment they begin working for the service or its arms length bodies.
Minister Murphy said: “As is the case in many organisations, agency workers play a key role in the civil service and the delivery of services.
"Under this new contract, agency workers will have parity with civil service permanent colleagues in terms of pay, annual leave and paid time off for medical and dental appointments from day one.
“The civil service is committed to looking after the health and wellbeing of all those working in the NICS. I believe these enhanced arrangements for agency workers demonstrate our commitment to workers’ rights."
The civil service employs over 23,000 people in Northern Ireland. At the last count there was over 2,500 agency staff. One thousand of those were contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions in London.
In May Mr Murphy's Department of Finance approved a 2% pay rise for the civil service, which was backdated to August, 2019 and costing around £23m.
At the time he said there was a need for reform of the civil service to allow more "agile" working practices and approaches to recruitment.
Mr Murphy said there would be a focus on "mental health, expansion of the NICS diversity and inclusion programme, and completion of the harmonisation of terms and conditions between industrial and non-industrial staff".
Sinn Fein MLA Jemma Dolan welcomed the announcement on pay and holiday leave parity by the minister.
The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA said: "Agency workers play a key role within the civil service and it is important they have the same rights and entitlements as those they work alongside.
"This is a step forward for workers' rights and equality."