Approximately a third of retailers increase their workforce for the Christmas period.

Because some employers can be in a rush to hire staff as quickly as possible, employment regulations and basic details can be unintentionally overlooked.

When hiring employees for the festive months ensure that you are clear and open about;

  • That they are being employed on a temporary basis;
  • What they should expect regarding the hourly rate of pay;
  • The hours they will be expected to work;
  • The need for them to be flexible to meet business needs.

If you discuss any of the above, it is always valuable to follow it up with a letter so that both parties are clear on what was agreed.

Employee v Worker?

It is essential to specify what type of employment status is being offered. There is a difference between someone who has a contract as an employee as opposed to a worker who is employed on a casual basis.

An employee will have additional legal rights, and there are mutual obligations between them and the employer.

For example, an employer has the duty to provide work, and the employee commits to complete it.

However, if workers are employed on a zero hour contract/casual basis, then they are entitled to refuse the shifts that are being offered, and the employer is not obliged to offer a set amount of hours per week. 

The Contract Of Employment

When employing a temporary member of staff, it is vital that the contract clearly reflect this and you will need to include a clause that states the temporary position does not guarantee a permanent role.

However, if there is a fixed term contract in place and there will be work available past this date the contract can be extended.

If a fixed term contract is being offered to consider whether or not to insert a break clause.

The will impact dismissing an employee without giving notice. If you do include a break clause will need to state the minimum notice period you will be giving a member of staff.

When looking to extend, it would prove more beneficial to review and make the changes earlier rather than later.

Otherwise, an employee could leave the Company having fulfilled their obligation resulting in the business having to recruit more staff.

A temporary contract allows for more flexibility compared to a permanent contract of employment, as they may be required to work short notice if it becomes particularly busy.

You will need to state this in the contract.

Temporary workers also can accrue a holiday entitlement so it would be advisable to state in the agreement that they cannot take holidays during periods where it is likely to be busy. 

What Employers Need To Remember

  • Make sure the terms of employment contract are clear. If they are temporary, the contract needs to say this. 
  • Zero hour workers have the option to refuse work
  • For temporary staff, ensure that you state in the contract when they cannot take their annual leave. 
  • If you’re looking to extend a fixed-term contract, give yourself enough time before the end date. 
  • If the business wants to employ a temporary member of staff in a permanent capacity, both parties must agree to the terms in writing. 

Even if the business are only looking to hire a small number of temporary employees, it is vital to get the details in the contract right.

You should be clear about the employment status you are offering, with clear contractual obligations, for example, the need to be flexible to accommodate a busy festive period and not take any holidays during certain times.

If a Company is looking to employ staff for a fixed term, be sure to include this in the contract so that there is no guarantee or obligation for you to provide work past this date.

Also, including a break clause with the minimum notice period and as long as this is followed, it will enable an employer to terminate a contract before the fixed term date.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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