Employing seasonal workers | Moorepay
November 24, 2022

Employing seasonal workers

employing seasonal workers

Love it or hate it, Christmas is almost here! For many businesses it’s no big deal, just another chance to take a few days off work. 

But for many, Christmas means a spike in sales, which means productivity must increase. Take the hospitality industry – Christmas is one of their busiest periods.

To cope with demand many businesses choose to employ seasonal workers. Keep reading to find out if seasonal staff need a contract of employment, what rights they have, employing students, casual contracts, and pay.

Do seasonal workers need a contract of employment?

They certainly do.  You will need to decide what type of contract you are going to issue. You have two options:

  • A temporary contract
  • A fixed term contract

‘Aren’t they the same?’ I hear some of you ask. The answer is ‘No. They’re similar, but not the same.’

Temporary contracts

A temporary contract will normally be issued if you’re not quite sure how long you will need the employee for. For example, you know when you want the employee to start, but may not be sure how long you will need them. You would normally put into the contract that they will be employed for a period of xx weeks/months, but that cannot be guaranteed if the work is completed before the expiry of that amount of time. In this case, the temporary employment would be ended by giving the required notice – normally a week if a short-term requirement.

Fixed term contracts

A fixed term contract, on the other hand, would be issued if you know the start and end date of your busy period. For example, you want someone to start with you at the beginning of December until the end of the first week of January.  You would then enter these dates into the contract. As the contract has an end date, there is no need to give notice, but you should always acknowledge that the employment will terminate on the date stated and it’s wise to speak to the employee at least a week before their end date to confirm this.

What about a casual contract – also now referred to as zero hours contract?

In some circumstances, a casual contract may be useful. However, what you need to remember here is that there is no mutuality of obligation, unlike the temporary or fixed term contracts. This means that someone who is a casual worker (also known as ‘bank staff’) does not have to accept the work offered – something which may not work if you need reliability to get you through the peak in demand. We have a calculator that works out and explains holiday pay and entitlement for zero-hours contracts – check it out.

What rights do temporary and fixed term employees have?

In a nutshell, they have the same rights as your permanent employees. If you have any benefits, such as discount on goods or services, then the temporary and fixed term employees should have the same discount. They should be treated no less favourably than your permanent employees.

What about students?

 It’s very common for students to be engaged over the Christmas period. However, there are additional rules which need to be considered if you are going to employ students under the age of 18.

Anyone under the age of 18 may not work more than 8 hours a day or no more than 40 hours in a week. They must have a minimum of a 30-minute break if working more than 4.5 hours in a day and must have a minimum of 12 hours rest from one working day to another.

They’re also not allowed to work nights – between 10:00pm and 6:00am. The exceptions to this are that they can work up until midnight or from 4:00am if they work in advertising, agriculture, a bakery, catering, a hospital or similar, a hotel pub or restaurant, post or newspaper delivery or in retail but only where  there are no adult workers available to do the work.  In such cases, they must be supervised by one or more adult workers where this is necessary for their protection.

What about pay?

As with any other work, seasonal/temporary/fixed term employees must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. This is currently £9.50 per hour (the National Living Wage) for anyone who is aged 23 or over, £9.18 per hour for those aged 21 and 22, £6.83 per hour for those aged between 18 and 20 and £4.81 per hour for those under 18.

Do you need a temporary of fixed term contract?

If you require a temporary or fixed term contract to cover your seasonal work, then please contact the Moorepay Policy Team on 03450 730240 and choose Option 3, or email policy.team@moorepay.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

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About the author

Elaine Pritchard

Elaine has a wealth of knowledge in producing contracts, training materials and other documentation as well as training other consultants. She piloted a scheme whereby she went on-site to act as a client’s HR Manager two days per week, whilst the post-holder was on maternity leave. Elaine also previously ran her own retail business for seven years, employing four people. Elaine is a field based consultant for Moorepay and provides on-site HR and Employment Law advice, consultancy and training services to our clients.