Thursday, 29 November 2018

Christmas workers have rights too

Temporary Christmas workers have the right to be treated just as fairly as your permanent staff according to a Shropshire employment lawyer.

Gemma Workman, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said at such a busy time of year, many employers needed to recruit extra workers, particularly in the retail sector.

“Obviously Christmas brings increased pressure with frantic shoppers trying to find the very best presents for their loved ones, and retail businesses need more staff to meet customer demand.

But even if you’re only employing staff for a short period of time over the holidays, you need to start by issuing these temporary workers with a contract of employment.”

Miss Workman said the contract should clearly set out the end date of the employment, and include a clause to allow either the employer or the worker to terminate the arrangement early.

“You must also ensure that temporary workers who are doing the same or a similar job to any of your permanent staff are included in pension or bonus schemes – unless you can objectively justify their exclusion.”

She said any temporary staff taken on through an agency were also entitled to treatment that was on a level playing field.

“Agency workers are entitled to access all the facilities in the workplace such as the canteen, car parking, and a creche from their very first day. They are also entitled to information on any permanent vacancies in your company from that first shift. But to qualify for extended employment rights and conditions, they would need to complete 12 weeks service and stay in the same role with your company for the entire three months.”

Miss Workman said the qualifying time would need to start from scratch if the agency worker moved to a new company and would be paused if they took time off sick – but during any maternity, paternity or adoption absences, the clock would still be ticking.

“It’s also an employer’s responsibility to check that any potential staff have permission to work here or you could face a civil penalty of up to £20,000. If you’re using an agency to hire your temporary staff though, as long as they remain employed by the agency throughout their contract, it would be the agency’s legal responsibility to check their work status.”

Miss Workman said when it came to salary, temporary Christmas workers must also receive a pro rata amount of pay and benefits compared to a permanent employee, unless it was not reasonable or it was inappropriate, such as a season ticket loan that permanent staff received.

“Temporary Christmas staff may well meet an urgent need, but they must be treated fairly and equally throughout their time in your business.”