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Temporary workers and their rights

Napthens - September 25th 2018

With the busy Christmas season just around the corner, many employers will be looking to take on temporary workers.

Why would my company benefit from temporary workers?

Temporary workers are those employed on a short-term basis to carry out certain roles. Often companies use temporary workers to assist in busy periods, taking into account seasonal variations such as Christmas. It is important that these workers are brought in with enough time for them to be sufficiently trained to carry out their role.

How do temporary workers differ from a full-time or part-time employee?

Temporary workers can be employed on a fixed term contract which allows them to work until an agreed termination date or until there is no further requirement for this role. This should be outlined within their employment contract and both the employer and the worker must comply with this agreement. Should the contract last for fewer than three months, the temporary work is only entitled to one weeks’ notice to terminate their contract, provided they have achieved at least one months’ service.

However, if the contract is for a period in excess of 3 months, the employer can not terminate the agreement before the end of the fixed term if there is no valid reason to do so (such as gross misconduct) or the contract provides for earlier termination during the fixed term.

The rights of the worker

Generally temporary workers on a fixed term contract are entitled to the same working conditions as their permanent employee equivalents after 12 weeks into the role. This also means that they should receive the same rest periods, working hours, holidays and pay as permanent employees employed in equivalent roles in the company after 12 weeks with the company.

Employing temporary workers through an agency

In the event you choose to employ a temporary worker through an agency it would be appropriate to find the most suitable agency for your business and to ensure that their recruitment process is suitable.

In most circumstances it will be the employment agency who will be acting as an “employment business” meaning that they employ the temporary worker. As such it is the agency’s responsibility to ensure that the worker receives their rights under the Working Time Regulations and national minimum wage.

If this approach is used then payment will be made to the agency who will then be responsible for paying any national insurance as well as any holiday and sick pay to the temporary worker. It may be worth considering this as opposed to engaging the temporary worker directly and seeing which approach is most beneficial for your company and its needs.

For further advice on temporary workers, speak to a member of the employment team.