Seasonal Workers And Short Term Contracts

Peninsula Team

April 27 2012

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We are entering into the summer season and a potentially busy period for many employers. This welcome increase in business can also bring with it certain challenges for an employer, none less than the requirement for extra staff. Some companies may only find themselves requiring additional staff for a particular season, such as hotels and restaurants, and so will need to tailor their staff contracts accordingly. This requirement for seasonal workers if managed correctly can provide a huge advantage for employers as they can increase their staff numbers in line with demand. However if managed incorrectly it can leave an employer exposed by having workers on the books during off peak times and potentially maintaining continuity of employment. A way of managing this issue is by looking at the types of contracts being issued to staff members and using the best type of contract to suit your business. If a Company has a defined period which they wish to hire workers for (a three month busy season, or a six month maternity cover contract) then an option available to them is a fixed term contract. This type of contract is for a defined period of time and will expire on a particular date. A fixed term contract provides a degree of flexibility for an employer as they can take on the staff member to cover this particular period and the contract will cease on a specified date. An alternative to this is if a Company has a particular project running and require additional resourcing for this then they can bring on employees on a specified purpose contract. This type of contract is used where there is no certainty as to when the exact job will end, however the employees are brought on to cover a particular task or project and when this project ends the contract will terminate. An additional option open to employers is that of a casual worker. Casual workers are defined as part-time workers who work on a casual basis, have less than 13 continuous weeks' service and who are not in regular or seasonal employment. Casual workers can be brought in on an ad-hoc basis as and when there is work to be done and this can provide the employer with a large degree of flexibility. The danger with causal contracts is if the employee continues to work beyond 13 weeks they are effectively classed as a part time employee and as such the company would need to look at terminating their employment in the same way they would a permanent employee. At Peninsula Business Services we can look at drafting bespoke fixed term or specified purpose contracts to suit your needs. If you require a degree of flexibility in the weekly working hours you have available, we can look at drafting variable hour contracts. Or should you need to extend fixed term contracts we can provide letters to this effect also. We can also advise employers on the casual worker scenario and if it would suit your business. The seasonal worker can be a valuable addition to a company’s workforce, and when managed correctly can offer significant advantages in terms of flexibility and additional resourcing. However, care needs to be taken to ensure that the right contract is provided to avoid leaving the company exposed down the line. At Peninsula we can assist employers with this and ensure that they get the most from their seasonal staff. If you have any concerns with regards to fixed term workers please contact our 24 hour Advice Line on 01 855 5050 where one of our dedicated advisors can advise you on this. If you wish to receive advice on the best type of contract to use and have additional bespoke documentation drafted up please contact us on 01 855 4861

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