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Employer’s Agent Explained

18th October 2022   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 3 minutes

Under the JCT Design & Build Contract, the employer’s agent acts as if they were the employer (client) in all matters. For the employer’s agent to discharge their duties effectively, they must act impartially and per the client’s brief for the project.


The RICS definition of an employer’s agent is “a named individual, and their employer, named in the Design and Build contract as being appointed by the client to manage the project on their behalf”.


The project brief must set out the employer’s expectations in terms of time, cost, quality and any other project-specific matters.

What does the role of an employer’s agent do?

The employer’s agent administers the project on behalf of the client and acts as the lead consultant for the delivery of the project.


The employer’s agent fulfils the functions of the project manager and cost manager; they may appoint additional consultants to discharge certain roles. 


The role of the employer’s agent starts before contract award, and continues through the construction phase to the post-completion defect rectification period.

Pre-contract phase

Before the Design and Build contract is awarded, the employer’s agent will:


  • Develop the client brief to define the client’s goals, objectives and expectations 
  • Compile a pre-tender estimate for the cost of delivering the project 
  • Develop an outline project programme 
  • Lead the professional team, including architect, designers and specialist consultants, to fully appraise the project feasibility and site suitability 
  • Advise the client on the outcome and remediation recommendations of matters arising from site investigations 
  • Compile the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) and tender documentation ahead of the pre-tender process 
  • Provide due diligence and advice on matters including warranties, licences, bonds and consents 
  • Manage the tender process on behalf of the employer to appoint the most appropriate contractor for the project 
  • Prepare the design and build contract documents to appoint the successful contractor
  • Sign off the appointed contractor’s detailed design 

Construction phase

During the construction phase, the employers agent will:


  • Lead the professional team 
  • Chair and record regular site meetings – typically monthly 
  • Review and approve design development 
  • Monitor project quality ensuring it meets the EIR
  • Manage and monitor the budget throughout the construction phase 
  • Manage the delivery of the project in line with the project programme 
  • At agreed intervals, undertake quality inspections and arrange for completed work to be certified, including issuing payment notices 
  • Implement change management processes as necessary throughout the contract 

Post completion 

When practical completion is achieved, and the building is handed over for use, the employer’s agent begins defect management. They will manage this process, ensuring making good certificates are issued for defect rectification. This period also includes preparation of the final account and negotiating any retention for defects.

How much does an employer’s agent cost?

Understandably, you want to know how much an employer’s agent will cost to engage for your project.


However, as with many professional services, there is no definitive fee for the role. The fee depends on the scope, scale and complexity of your project.


In our experience, the most common fee option is a percentage of the project construction value. However it may be possible to negotiate a lump sum agreement fixed fee.


Alternatively, you may choose to pay a time-based fee. Whilst this is the most flexible option, it also offers the least cost certainty for the client. Therefore, we recommend negotiating a monthly fee-cap based on your employer’s agents’ time estimate.


Percentage-based fees vary based on the project, with new-build projects often carrying a lower percentage fee than refurbishment projects.


You can read more about employer’s agent fees here.

Cost influencing factors

The fee you pay for the employer’s agent services will be influenced by factors including:


  • Practice size 
  • Operational area 
  • Market sectors 
  • Economy 
  • Project complexity

Does your project need an employer’s agent?

If you plan to use the JCT Design and Build contract, you must appoint an employer’s agent.


If you, as the employer, have sufficient in-house skills and experience, you may appoint an employer’s agent from your team.


If you are inexperienced in the delivery of construction projects or have limited in-house capability, we recommend appointing an external professional employers agent to act on your behalf.

How to appoint an employer’s agent

As referred to earlier in this article, the employer’s agent must be appropriately skilled and experienced to act on the client’s behalf for the delivery of the project.


Independent professional employers agent, we recommend checking the following


  • Individual skills, experience and qualifications
  • Practice insurance, accreditations and registrations
  • Past project portfolio

How Evolution5 can help

Evolution5 is an award-winning professional construction consultancy offering employer’s agents, contract administrators, quantity surveyors, project management, principal designer and construction management services across London and the South East.


To find out how we can help if you are planning a project using JCT Design and Build contract get in touch by clicking the button below or calling 023805073