Many companies are now considering taking on temporary staff to cover the increased demand over the Christmas period. There is a common misconception to think that these employees don’t have any employment rights or protection when this is simply not the case.

All employees, whether temporary or permanent, have the same rights and temporary staff should not be treated less favourably than permanent employees. They are entitled to receive a written statement of their main terms and conditions within two months of starting work if their employment lasts for longer than one month, even if they leave within those two months. They have the right to written pay slips and will accrue annual leave in exactly the same way as permanent staff. They also have the right to notice and should be considered for any appropriate vacancies that are available when their contract comes to an end.

Prospective employees should be aware that it is a temporary role to cover the Christmas period and, if possible, when it is likely to end. A fair recruitment process should be used to avoid unintentional discrimination.

As temporary employees will accrue annual leave the contract should specify any dates when they will not be allowed to take leave. Temporary staff are also subject to the same disciplinary and grievance rules as permanent staff members.

Appointment of temporary staff can still be subject to references and these should be taken up as normal. It is all too easy be less rigorous in checking of staff who are only supposed to be temporary. This can be a dangerous and potentially costly mistake. These employees are still representatives of the company and references can help ensure that they are suitable. Additionally, companies may offer permanent roles to some of the temporary staff and taking up references for internal applicants is often missed which can leave companies exposed. Rejecting employees for permanent work due to their references can be hard to explain when they were good enough to work on a temporary basis, particularly if you have no problem with their work.

A company wishing to make any of these temporary staff permanent employees must make sure that they are clear and transparent in their selection methods in order to avoid leaving themselves open to any tribunal claims. Companies must give proper notice to any temporary employee whose employment is not going to be picked up permanently.