Seasonal workers

Seasonal workers: Contractual issues for employers

Seasonal workers: Contractual issues for employers

Seasonal peaks can bring an influx of work at certain time of the year e.g. the Christmas holidays. Sectors which include: retail, hospitality, tourism and agriculture normally hire additional personnel during these busy periods. There are several key contractual considerations for employers making seasonal hires.


Employment Status

When recruiting additional staff, it’s important to understand and recognise the employment status of the individuals. They will either be classed as an “employee”, a “worker” or even “self-employed”. It doesn’t matter so much as to what a business labels them however, it is extremely important how the law considers them. This is because employees have far more legal rights than workers and workers have more legal rights than those who are self-employed.


Individuals who are self-employed are in business for their own account and have more scope to dictate when they work and how it will be carried out. They can also hire a substitute to do the work for them instead.


An employee is required to undertake the work personally. Their employer will control when they work, how they work and what work they want them to do. The employee is obliged to accept the work offered to him/her. On the other hand, workers can usually refuse shifts or are only involved with one-off tasks or events. Also, workers aren’t normally guaranteed the provision of work and is only paid for the work they have completed.


Fixed-term employees

A fixed-term contract is used when an individual is set to cover seasonal work or who may be taken on for a certain amount of time. The contract will end on a specific date or when a project has been completed.


An individual employed on a fixed-term contract is protected against less favourable treatment when compared to a permanent employee. For example, it will be unlawful if an employer excludes an employee with a fixed-term contract from their bonus scheme unless there is a justifiable reason.


The expiry of a fixed-term contract is deemed to be a dismissal. If the contract has lasted for two or more years’ service, the employer must ensure there is a fair reason given for the employees contract ending. There should be a fair termination procedure or else the employer may find themselves facing a successful claim for unfair dismissal. However, if an employee has been continuously employed for four or more years on a series of successive fixed-term contracts, the employee will automatically be deemed to be classed as a permanent employee.


Part-time workers

Part-time workers may be employed at seasonal peaks to help assist with permanent staff. These workers are also protected against less favourable treatment compared to full-time staff members. For example, if an employer provides private medical insurance to full-time employees, they must also provide it to part-time workers unless there is a justifiable reason.


Casual Workers

Casual workers may work on zero-hour terms where there is no guarantee of work being offered. A casual worker can also be associated with an individual who is offered a guaranteed minimum number of hours. This is when an individual works a certain number of working hours per week however, they can be offered more hours.


Its vital employers make their employees aware of the term of their job are and also what their expectations are. In some organisations, it can be common for employers to think that casual employees aren’t actually employed, as the relationship between them and the employer is quite informal.


If you need advice or have any questions regarding resourcing at busy times of the year, please contact a member of the HPC team…


T: 0844 800 5932


Twitter: @HPC_HRservices


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