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Office Hours: 9am to 5.30pm

Seasonal staff’s rights

Christmas is just around the corner, and with it comes the legion of temporary workers to manage the anticipated rise in demand for products and services. Argos, for instance, has announced 9,000 Christmas jobs, whilst Sainsbury’s has advertised for 15,000 and Royal Mail has announced a huge 15,000 intake.

Even if a person is to be hired for a short period of time, even as little as a few weeks, they still have certain employment rights. So if you are planning to increase your staffing levels in the coming weeks, here are a few things you need to be aware of.

Contracts for temporary workers are the subject of much confusion, and for good reason, after all the UK has some of the most complex employment legislation in the world. Perhaps one of the first things employers should do is to check their understanding of what makes a person defined as a ‘worker’ or ‘employee’ – the two are very similar.

Simply put, a person is classed as a ‘worker’ if they perform a duty or service for an employer in exchange for monetary return. This includes casual workers, agency workers and even some freelance workers. An ‘employee’, however, is someone who works for you under the terms of an employment contract.

However, that is not to say that the temporary or casual worker is not technically ‘employed’ or has fewer rights than their ‘employee’ colleagues. Employers are legally obligated to provide all workers whose employment is to continue for more than one month with certain rights, including:

  • Written statement outlining the main terms and conditions of their employment
  • Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • To not work over and above the statutory maximum of 48 hours per week and to have the option to opt out of this right if they choose
  • To be paid at least the National Minimum Wage
  • Statutory minimum length of rest breaks
  • To be protected against unlawful discrimination

There are some rights that are also shared by employees too, these include:

Often, seasonal workers are employed on a part-time basis but even in this instance, they may still be entitled to additional benefits such as Statutory Maternity Pay, Ordinary Statutory Pay, and Statutory Sick Pay.

Finally, irrespective of whether the worker is employed on a continual basis or not, there may still be an overriding employment relationship that covers not only the times the employee is contracted to work, but also the gaps in-between that contract of employment.

By understanding and implementing these different forms of employment into your seasonal influx of staff, you can minimise the potential risk to your company. For employees where the date is fixed, it is by far more beneficial to a company to hire them on a fixed term contract and offer a new one once that period is completed.


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