It is the time of year now when many companies start looking at 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 you should not treat your temporary staff less favourably than your permanent employees. This means that 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. This applies even if they leave within those two months. They have the right to written pay slips and they will accrue annual leave in exactly the same way as your other 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.
It is important, therefore, when recruiting to make sure that you set out the relevant terms of the role. Be clear that it is a temporary role to cover the Christmas period and, if possible, set out when you anticipate the role coming to an end. Make sure that you use a fair recruitment process so that you are not faced with any potential discrimination claims in relation to those that you have turned down.
As your temporary employees will accrue annual leave make sure you specify if there are any dates within the contract when they will not be allowed to take leave. It is important to be consistent with how you treat all your staff so make sure that if your temporary staff break the rules then they are treated exactly the same way as your permanent staff members.
Give yourself plenty of time to carry out a proper recruitment process, including taking up references. It is all too easy to think that someone isn’t going to be with you long so you won’t be as rigorous in checking applications as you would be otherwise. This can be a dangerous and potentially costly mistake. You are taking these employees on as representatives of your company so you need to make sure that they are suitable. Take up references so that you can be sure that they meet your requirements. Additionally, if you have a tendency to offer permanent roles to some of your temporary staff you must be aware that taking up references for internal applicants is often missed which can leave you exposed. If you reject them for permanent work due to their references it will be hard to explain why you felt that they were good enough to work for you on a temporary basis but not permanently, particularly if you have no problem with their work.
If you do wish to make any of these temporary staff permanent employees you must make sure that you are clear and transparent in your selection methods so that you don’t leave yourself open to any tribunal claims. Make sure you give proper notice to any temporary staff whose contract you will not be continuing.
• Give yourself enough time to recruit properly
• Issue contracts
• Spell out any restrictions on holidays
• Follow fair selection procedures if making anyone permanent
• Give proper notice if you are ending the contract
For further information or advice please contact Peninsula’s Advice Service on 0844 892 2772
September 30 2011