Employing extra help over the Christmas period?

Contrary to the on-screen illusion that the wheels of Christmas are operated by little elves, the next few weeks are of course a time when thousands of people across the UK join companies to help them through the festive season. Amazon for one is hiring 20,000 people, Argos 10,000 and Boots 2,000.

These big chains have done it year after year and although a hectic stint there might challenge one’s Christmas cheer, employers and employees should know what employment agreement they’re getting into. It might however, be less clear if you’re a smaller business owner or someone looking to take on extra work. So it’s perhaps a timely reminder to look at the different legalities of employing people temporarily.

Everyone working can technically be called a worker but there is a legal difference between taking someone on as ‘an employee’ and ‘a worker’.

An employee generally has more statutory rights than a worker, such as being entitled to redundancy pay or being protected from unfair dismissal. However both workers and employees are covered by the right to the national minimum wage, working time requirement, holiday pay, and protection against discrimination.

But workers don’t have quite the same obligation to their employers as employees do – they’re not obliged to work when requested for example.

However there is also the option of employing someone on a fixed-term contract as an employee. This would mean that employers had a greater degree of control as employees would be under a ‘mutuality of obligation,’ and the fixed-term employee would have more rights than a ‘worker’. If for example, permanent employees were receiving a Christmas bonus based on their work through that year, those on fixed-term contracts would also be entitled to receive a bonus in line with the amount of time that they spent at the company. Fixed-term employees would also be protected from unfair dismissal and eligible for redundancy pay if their contract was terminated early.

So make sure it is clear under which conditions you are employing someone this Christmas. If you would like some further advice on the area, please contact our employment lawyers on 01639 640150.